SERAGLIO, by Janet Wallach

Wallach, better known for non-fiction like her marvelous Desert Queen (the story of adventurer and nation-founder Gertrude Bell), gives us a fascinating  behind-the-walls look at the womens' quarters of the Ottoman sultans. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, you'll enjoy meeting Tulip, the eunuch who is assigned to lovely young Aimee du Buc, a gift to the sultan from an Algerian pirate. Renamed Nakshidil, young Aimee resists her captors, with dreadful consequences. Finally, things change. The passions and plots of Topkapi Palace, the births and deaths and murders, all will sweep you along. For a historical novel fan, this is a treat. A 5.