Regards from the Dead Princess

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

On January 13, 1941, the Rani Selma of Badalpur and Aysha Salimabad died in German-occupied France. She left behind grieving friends, an estranged husband (the Rajah Amir), and a fifteen-month-old daughter. Some four decades later, her orphaned daughter re-creates in novel form the life of the mother she never truly knew.

The story opens in the last months of World War I, with the introduction of Princess Selma--granddaughter of Sultan Murad V. Murad V ascended to the throne of the Ottoman Empire with the death of his uncle, Abdul Aziz, in 1876, only to be overthrown and replaced by his brother Abdul Hamid II. Despite such political developments, Princess Selma spent her childhood amidst the luxury and privilege of a member of a royal family which had ruled a vast empire for some six hundred years. Yet, before she came of age, the Empire suffered the indignity of defeat, invasion, and occupation by the victorious Allied powers. Then followed years of civil war as nationalist forces under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal battled the Greeks, British, and French in pursuit of independence from foreign rule. Ultimately, the victory of Kemal led to the overthrow of the Sultanate, the establishment of the Turkish Republic, and the exile of all members of the royal family.

In consequence, Selma and her mother took refuge in Lebanon with such funds as they were able to carry away on short notice. In Beirut, under conditions of genteel poverty, Selma...

(The entire section is 460 words.)