The Turkish Lover is the third memoir installment of Esmeralda Santiago. The first is When I Was Puerto Rican and the second is Almost A Woman. In this book Esmeralda goes into more detail about her seven years long love affair with Turkish film producer, Ulvi Dogan. Esmeralda met Ulvi in Manhattan when she was 20 and he was 37. Ulvi is from a culture that condones male chauvinism, and he is exactly that. Esmeralda falls under Ulvi’s spell to my complete amazement.
This book is well written, but frustrating to read because Esmeralda spent seven years allowing this man to control her life. She mentions Ulvi in her book, Almost A Woman, and I thought that Esmeralda was with him for no more than a year. I was shocked to learn in this book that she was with him for so long.
Ulvi is a man who wanted nothing to do with her family ever. Ulvi was not even interesting in meeting them. She mostly gave up being with her family to please him. Esmeralda also let go of her friendships for him, and this is just for starters. He must have been quite a charmer because I cannot imagine giving up my family as a requirement to be with a man; especially my mother. She was not allowed to answer the phone when it rang in their apartment. He chose all her clothes for her and she could not wear makeup. He refused to marry her too. I do understand about love and the sometimes stupid things you do, because I have been there, but no way would I have stayed seven years in a relationship like that; especially after the first time he slapped her. Interestingly enough, I was able to understand that Ulvi was simply a man of his time period and culture. Not that it made me feel sorry for him because I didn’t. He was selfish and controlling, and felt that was his right as a man. I don’t even consider him a real film producer since he only produced one film in his entire life called Susuz Yaz. This film won an award at a film festival and Ulvi came to the States to try get it released in the USA. He was not successful in doing that or getting backing to make more films.
It is a very interesting memoir, but like the first two, Esmeralda mentions things and then does not tie up loose ends about them by the books end. I am really surprised that her editors allow this in her books. I am sure that everyone who read this book wants to know whatever happened to her cousin Alma. At least in this book she does explain why her mother moved back to Puerto Rico after ten years and the path that led her to Howard University.