Set in magical, mystical Constantinople in the closing years of the nineteenth century, Halide's Gift is the story of a family with a secret, and a society in turbulent transition. At the heart of this beguiling novel are two sisters—one flamboyant and mischievous, the other shy and full of dreams—bound by an extraordinary friendship who will be torn apart by their love of radically different men.
Selima Edib, the aristocratic wife of the sultan's first secretary, bequeaths to her daughter Halide her passionate spirit and her gift—a power nursed within the family for generations, passed on from mother to daughter, and never revealed to outsiders: the power to see and commune with the spirits of the dead. Halide's gift leaves her torn between the spiritual, tradition-bound world of her grandmother and the intellectual world of her father, a deeply conflicted man who defies the sultan's edict to give his daughter the education of a Western woman, despite his loyalty to the regime.
As the story unfolds, Sultan Abdul Hamid plots, through his spies and informers, to crush the increasingly vocal opposition, leaving Halide and her sister, Mahmoure, on either side of a dangerous political divide.