The Aviary Gate Author:Katie Hickman In Oxford's Bodleian Library, Elizabeth Staveley has found a fragment of ancient paper that may hold the key to a story hidden for four centuries: a British sea captain's daughter held captive in the sultan's harem. — Constantinople, 1599. In the sultan's palace, the chief eunuch has been poisoned by a beautiful ship made of spun ... more »sugar, and a rebellion is rising within the palace's most private quarters. A British merchant, Paul Pindar, brings a precious gift to the sultan and discovers that the woman he once loved, Celia, may be alive, hidden among the ranks of slaves in the sultan's harem. Can this really be his shipwrecked Celia? And if it is, can they be reunited?
Steeped in mystery and sexual intrigue, The Aviary Gate transports readers to exotic sixteenth-century Constantinople, offering the rarest glimpse into the forbidden confines of the sultan's harem.« less
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The Aviary Gate is a story set in both present day and 1599 Constantinople. Celia is the daughter of an English merchant who is taken captive by Ottomans to become a slave in the sultan's harem. In present day Oxford, Elizabeth is a graduate student who stumbled upon part of a narrative describing Celia's time in the harem. The search for the remainder of Celia's story takes Elizabeth all the way to Istanbul.
Jumping back and forth through time is something many writers attempt but in The Aviary Gate, Elizabeth's progress in her search for the rest of the narrative did nothing to drive the story. Many of Hickman's characters are complicated and interesting but Elizabeth is not. She spends most of the story moping over a guy who treats her badly. Elizabeth's interludes really only served to halt the pace of the book. Its my opinion that The Aviary Gate would have been just as good without Elizabeth.
The part of the story which took place in Constantinople was full of suspense and intrigue. I'd recommend skipping the present day interludes altogether, you won't miss anything important to the story. If you enjoy stories told in the past/present format I'd recommend People of the Book.
A bit underwhelming of a story, but I definitely give an "A" for effort. The back and forth between present and past tense was neat, but there wasn't really any big twist or enough historic detail like the text was trying to lead on. Not really much of a plot either for the first two hundred pages. I really liked Hickman's descriptive style; it definitely helped you transport a bit between scenes.
A bit of a spoiler review.
I really enjoyed this book,it was interesting and well paced-I had a hard time putting it down and I loved the flip-flop between the centuries. The characters are well developed and likable. I will say I cried at the end... a lot! I was disappointed in the ending, and yet it made the book more realistic and memorable.