- Night Letter
Anahita is thrilled to be on her way to her betrothed’s city of Marv in Persia in the early 1900s. When she is kidnapped along the way, she doesn’t panic, because she’s confident that between her own tribe and her fiancé’s, she will soon be rescued. Meanwhile, she watches for ways she can help her friends track her. There are setbacks for both the kidnappers and her would-be rescuers, and Anahita eventually ends up in the harem of a despotic emir. Caught between negotiations and necessity, Anahita must plot to save herself, while her father, fiancé, grandmother, and [End Page 216] friends face troubles of their own in the emir’s fortress. While the prose is sometimes stiff, it’s also often touched with metaphorical grace; the events are clear, and the periodic shifts in narrative perspective, from Anahita’s first-person account to the third-person narration of events taking place on her behalf, keep readers engaged in this action-laden adventure in a seldom-explored historical setting. A list of characters and places prefaces the novel, and a glossary and discussion guide follow; in a wide-ranging author’s note that treats the history, language, art, and poetry of the region, Sayres describes the bride kidnapping going on during the time of the story and then provides an update on current practices of enslavement and trafficking. Although this extensive apparatus suggests that the book is clearly meant for curricular use, readers will also find plenty of enjoyment in the classic story of a strong-willed heroine fighting for her own freedom and happiness in a land of serene dervishes, untrustworthy khans, ruthless emirs, and interesting customs.