Books I wouldn' t have read without Dorothy Dunnett
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
There are many books which I have read because they were somehow related to Dorothy Dunnett, though maybe I have read them already because of some Dunnett connection, some of them I would have found sooner or later. Almost all of them were the recomendation of someone on some Dunnett list (thank you, all of you) because it shared historical characters or a period with some Dunnett book, or because the style reminded us a bit (never enough) of her unimitable style, or just because someone liked it which is a good enough reason. It is not easy to pick one such book and just one, I keep feeling I am not being fair to all those other books. But My Name is Red is a novel about art and painting portraits, I do wonder what Lady Dunnett as a portrait painter would have thought of it.
This novel is set in Constantinople, Stamboul, in the end of the XVIth century, just a few decades after Pawn in Frankincense. To my regret I have never been to Istambul, maybe it's better so, because no real city can compete with the Constantinople of Pawn in Frankincense or this Stamboul.
Or so I try to convince myself....
My Name is Red is a turkish view on a society just a little more recent than the one on Pawn in Frankincense, and it presents as many different perspectives, as many details and colors as one of the great persian miniatures that the characters of this book so admire (or not). It's a mistery novel, it's a philosophical reflection about art, it's a bit of a love story (or maybe it's not quite love), and all told from a dozen different points of view, murdered and murderer, horse and tree, child and woman and man, color, dog, devil...
It's a gorgeous novel. It is also very different from Lady Dunnett's novels but it was a joy to find here little bits and pieces, which were old friends already: coffee houses and storytellers, dervishes and coffee drinking, a big mechanical clock in the treasure of the Sultan (but a gift from the Queen of England not the King of France through his so charming ambassador), the jewish lady who passes love notes undercover of selling trinkets, and most of all, the city itself...
Teresa Claudino, Portugal