Discussion Questions




  1. The novel is packed full of history about not only World War II but Turkey and Istanbul during this time. Is this a time period and location with which you were familiar? If not, did reading the novel pique your interest in Turkish history during this time?
  2. Rudolf fell in love with Gertrude when he was young. Despite their years of separation, he is determined to be reunited with her. Was his determination realistic? How far would you go for love? Would you travel to foreign lands? Pretend to agree with ideologies that made your stomach turn?
  3. Rosalyn wants to save the world. In fact, she goes to great lengths and moves to a strange land during a time of war. Are her actions believable? How far would you go to further a cause?
  4. The main characters of the novel represent the three main religions of the West: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. How well did the various religious work together in Istanbul?
  5. Rosalyn tries a variety of exotic Turkish dishes such as haydari (yogurt with herbs), ezme (a tomato and pepper salad), and, of course, kebab. Have you tried any of these dishes? Did you associate them with Turkish food? Did the novel make you curious about Turkish cuisine or was this merely background noise to the story itself?
  6. Searching for Gertrude takes place primarily in Istanbul, but there are also glimpses of New York, Germany and Israel. Which place would you most like to visit? Why?
  7. The search for Gertrude is eventually successful. Was the result a surprise? Were you disappointed with the result of the search for Gertrude? Would have written a different ending to Gertrude’s story?
  8. What do you think the author’s purpose was in writing this book? What idea was she trying to get across? Was there a morale to this story?
  9. How did the book effect you? Did it change your opinion of actions taken by men and women who find themselves caught in a war? Do you think you could hang onto your beliefs and ideals during a war or would you do anything to survive?
  10. The topic of World War II and the fate of the Jews is one of the most written about historical subjects. Did the author have anything original or unique to add to this stack of books with Searching for Gertrude? In other words, how original and unique was the story?