The Carpet Weaver of Usak. Kathryn Gauci. Ebony Publishing. September 2018. 254 pp. ISBN#: 9780648123545.
Aspasia and Saniye, the former Greek Orthodox and the other Turkish, are two friends whose love and care for each other endures the terrible Greek-Turkish conflict between 1914 and 1919. These women live in Anatolia, a place of beauty and joy, where Greek and Turkish families celebrate frequently in the town center or meydan between the towns of Stavrodomi and Pinarbasi.
Usak is the nearby center of the carpet weaving industry. In the early period of 1914, Greeks and Turks work together to create these masterpieces that one can virtually see in the wonderful descriptions of old classical and new styles of designing and weaving rugs. Even the methods of creation are described as women work from home and some work from factories in hand-tying the strands that eventually become a completed rug. During those times of work, some workers have conversations that grow and unite these women stronger by the year. Husbands, lovers, pregnancies, family lives and death are united to the point that when the wars between Greeks and Turks begin, these women help each other give birth and survive with each other when their spouses are forced to serve for opposing sides. The carpet weaving industry almost disappears as war becomes more dangerous to all sides!
In the beginning, even in war, soldiers on both sides do their jobs. Many die and the sorrow is evident everywhere. But that doesn’t stop some from rescuing those who are in danger of capture. In 1919 the war becomes worse with the arrival of the Greeks at Smyrna. In the meydan, the Fountain of the Sun and Moon now becomes the place where punishments, mainly death sentences, carried out. The treasured unity is shattered!
Throughout this novel, many die or suffer from prevailing grief, lack of food, loss of children and spouses, and so much more. The author does such a good job at describing each scene that the reader is drawn into the entire account by numerous images that make one think and feel. What stands out, beside the horrors of this war that too few people are aware of, is the ties that bind these two friends and families when distrust prevails.
This is a story that readers will not soon forget, one that celebrates love, laughter, trust and endurance as well as what denies, divides and shatters tradition! Outstanding!!!