Gillian Flynn
July 20, 2001 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Halide's Gift

Current Status
In Season
Frances Kazan
Fiction, History

We gave it a C+

In the gloaming of the 19th century, in the moribund Ottoman Empire, young Halide Edib sees the spirits of the dead. She nurses the past as her father spurs her toward the future — meaning a Western education and the abandonment of mysticism and faith. These contrasting influences form the crux of Kazan’s fictionalized account of the early life of Edib, a revolutionary author and activist during the Turkish War of Independence. Unfortunately, Kazan (wife of director Elia) balances truth and fiction imperfectly. Clunky chunks of history read like a textbook, while other sections are jammed with characters — a defiant sister, a proud stepmother, an intellectual suitor — whose own tangled tales prevent Kazan from unraveling the mysteries of this unique woman. Halide herself remains as enigmatic as the voices she hears.

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