I very nearly abandoned this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it.
"Last Train to Istanbul" is the story of two privileged sisters, Sabiha and Selva, living in Istanbul. Sabiha follows her culture's expectations by marrying a man of the same faith and who has high ambitions within the new Turkish government. Selva follows her heart, marrying Rafael ... a Jewish man. Both Rafael and Selva are rejected by their families, and so they move to Paris where they will be more accepted.
However, it's the 1930s ... and soon enough the Vichy government is rounding up Jews to send them to camps at Drancy.
This is the set-up for the plot that involves the Turkish government's documented provision of a single railroad carriage to get its citizens out of France and back to their neutral homeland.
The characters feature members of the government, collaborators and resisters ... in other words, the cast you would expect to be involved in a story set in this place and time. Even the "good guys" are flawed; no one is a cardboard character.
I ended up enjoying this book thoroughly and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in either the subject matter or in literary fiction.
(Review based on uncorrected advance proof.)