Review

The Palace of Tears

by Alev Lytle Courtier

True
to the grace of its title, PALACE OF TEARS unfolds as a mature and
questing tale of true love and the search for self. Restless to
discover his destiny and enchanted by a woman's photo, French
winemaker Casimir journeys to the "East" --- the Ottoman Empire ---
in search of both. Caught in a nightly rapture called the reve a
deux with Casimir is La Poupee, the woman in the photo. Their lucky
meeting in 1869 Constantinople saves the two from separate and
unhappy fates.
The
novel takes extreme liberties with history and geography, creating
an obvious jumble of European history that firmly establishes it as
a flight of fancy. Nevertheless, Croutier's writing is flawless,
combining strong physical detail, lyrical phrasing, and short
chapters into a striking contemplation on an individual's right to
happiness, duty to others, and the rules of society. Equally
compelling is the character of Casimir, symbolic as he is of the
individual's struggle against society's conventions in order to
pursue the heart's desire and construct one's own identity. His
abandonment of his wife and children is callous and selfish, but
his desperation to find his true self makes for a strong
argument.
While not a classic romance, PALACE OF TEARS is still a lavish
tale. The genesis of Croutier's idea is a mystery, but her creative
storytelling inspires the imagination. If nothing else, the success
of Casimir and La Poupee's seemingly impossible relationship
suggests that there is no such thing as "star-crossed
lovers."
---
Reviewed by Sofrina Hinton

Reviewed by on January 22, 2011

The Palace of Tears
by Alev Lytle Courtier

  • Publication Date: November 7, 2000
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • ISBN-10: 0385334885
  • ISBN-13: 9780385334884