According to legends two French girls in the West Indies had their fortune told and were both assured they would be queens. Years later one of them becomes the wife of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Her niece however disappears during a sea voyage. She ends up being sold into the imperial harem in Istanbul. Although there is hardly any historical evidence to this legend it is told in many books.
The first novel is a
story about a French woman who became the favourite of two sultans and
the mother of a third. The history of that era is known and described in
book 2. This however is the romanticised prequel to real history and it
is a delight to read if you like historical romance novels. The first wife however would in real life have ended up on the bottom of the Bosporus.
The second novel in the series somehow reads different. Maybe because the writer had to stick to history and maybe because it spans many years. I am quite
familiar with this era in Turkish history what influenced the suspense
side of the story. In general it feels more like a history book than a
novel. What makes Selim so attractive? How do the women react on sharing
the same man? Not that much explored. The people do not really come to life. But if you are interested in
history it is a lovely way to catch up on Napoleon and France and on the
lives of the sultans.
More then 20 years ago I read another novel about this legend - serialised in a magazine - and that was a lot better.