Neurotic Fishbowl: The Virgin's Knot by Holly Payne

 

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The Virgin's Knot by Holly Payne

The Virgin's Knot by Holly Payne: an amazing first novel set in 1950s Turkey.

Twenty-two year old Nurdane is the center of this book - indeed, she is the virgin who ties the titular knots. Crippled with polio when she was six, her father taught her to weave so that she could travel places without her legs. Normally, this would be a skill taught by women, but sadly Nurdane's mother died in childbirth. Since she is considered less of a woman by men, Nurdane's virgin status allows her to create prayer rugs and matrimonial dowry rugs that are believed to heal the sick and bring good fortune for any lucky enough to possess them. Most of the novel is about Nurdane's life, but we are also introduced to John Hennessey, a physical anthropologist, and Adam, Nurdane's doctor along with people from her village.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel until the last fifty pages or so. I found the ending to be very out of character for what I thought would have happened. After thinking about it, I can see why it was that way, but I felt that the book would have been stronger with a different ending. It altered the intricately woven narrative with a dream-like quality into almost a totally different novel. Still, the book alone is worth reading simply to experience Nurdane's life.

(Finished on September 1, 2003 for Zuly’s Reading Room.)

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Comments

I disagree. I believe the ending was very satisfying. It left me with a sense of awe about the extreme measures these people would go throught to achieve peace with Allah.

.: Nicole Allison said on March 8, 2004 07:48 PM :: link it :.

i was bored on the computer one day and tped in my name Holly Payne and found nothing but a ton of sites dealing with a new authur named Holly Payne. She looks almost exactally like my dad (he has the payne side) but in a girl way. i was wondering if me and her were related since we both have the payne name and it would be weird since my name is holly also. i got her book to look up on what she writes about and everything and it was very awesome, considering i rarley read books. if anyone knows of a way to contact her, please feel free to e-mail me ;)

.: Holly Payne said on July 22, 2004 08:17 PM :: link it :.

I read Virgin's Knot while living and working in Ankara, Turkey. (While my husband was a Fulbright scholar, I worked as a reporter for the Turkish Daily News and the Prime Minister's publicist for the Zeugma excavation.) My fellow Turkish language students loved Holly's book and we eagerly passed it around, discussed it, and recommended it to others.

I have just finished my own third novel which begins in Baghdad and ends up in southeast Turkey. (First two novels were set in the US, published in 2001 and 2002) I am hoping to work with Peter Miller who has my manuscript now. This novel is a new experience because I am attempting to represent a culture different than my own.

I will be living in Turkey half time from now on with my professor husband. I would love to talk to Holly about issues such as honor killings, status of women in Turkey, goddess traditions--and how Islam impacts Turkish daily life.

Please contact me, Holly! Or tell me how to reach you. I too am a Turkophile with 13 years of experience traveling to Turkey. Americans don't know what they are missing when they say they are afraid to travel to Turkey. I know you agree, Holly! It's one of the sweetest, most elegant cultures I have ever encountered.

I also would love to hear about your current novel set in the Balkans. Please get in touch with me! Your web site gave no contact info.

All the best,
Jeni Grossman

.: Jeni Grossman said on August 3, 2004 07:22 PM :: link it :.

You're too early! Come back at September 1, 2003 11:07 PM to see this post.

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