Goodreads ratings
3.95 / 5

"Bliss" Summary

By O.Z. Livaneli

fiction | 374 pages | Published in 2012

Rosemary Bliss’s family has a secret. It’s the Bliss Cookery Booke—an ancient, leather-bound volume of enchanted recipes like Stone Sleep Snickerdoodles and Singing Gingersnaps. Rose and her siblings are supposed to keep the Cookery Booke under lock and whisk-shaped key while their parents are out of town, but then a mysterious stranger shows up. “Aunt” Lily rides a motorcycle, wears purple sequins, and whips up exotic (but delicious) dishes for dinner. Soon boring, non-magical recipes feel like life before Aunt Lily—a lot less fun.So Rose and her siblings experiment with just a couple of recipes from the forbidden Cookery Booke.A few Love Muffins and a few dozen Cookies of Truth couldn’t cause too much trouble . . . could they?Kathryn Littlewood’s culinary caper blends rich emotional flavor with truly magical wit, yielding one heaping portion of hilarious family adventure.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

As a Turkish pianist seeks refuge in a remote village, she finds herself entangled in the lives of its inhabitants, leading to unexpected connections and revelations.


"Bliss" by O.Z. Livaneli is a captivating novel that delves into the lives of Meryem and Irfan, two individuals from different worlds whose paths become intertwined due to a tragic event. Set against the backdrop of the stunning Turkish countryside, the novel explores themes of love, honor, and the clash between tradition and modernity. As the story unfolds, readers are taken on a poignant journey that challenges societal norms and sheds light on the complexities of human relationships.

Brief Synopsis

The novel is set in a small village in Turkey, where Meryem, a young woman, is sentenced to death for bringing shame upon her family after being raped. Irfan, a professor of philosophy, is sent to the village to document the local music. As he becomes involved in Meryem's case, their lives become intertwined in unexpected ways, leading to a powerful and emotional exploration of love, redemption, and the struggle for justice.

Main Characters

The novel features several key characters who play significant roles in the development of the story:

MeryemA young woman from a traditional Turkish village, who becomes the center of a scandal after being raped.
IrfanA philosophy professor with a troubled past, who becomes involved in Meryem's case and finds himself drawn to her.
CemalA young man who is sent to the village to kill Meryem in order to restore his family's honor, but ends up questioning his motives.
RaifeMeryem's cousin, who struggles with her own desires and the expectations placed upon her by her family and society.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapters 1-5

The novel introduces the readers to the tranquil setting of the Turkish village and the traditional way of life that governs the community. Meryem's ordeal comes to light, and the village is thrown into turmoil as her family grapples with the shame she has brought upon them. Irfan arrives in the village, unaware of the dramatic events that await him.

Chapters 6-10

As Irfan delves into the village's musical traditions, he becomes increasingly intrigued by Meryem's story. He forms a connection with her and begins to question the harsh judgment she has faced. Meanwhile, Cemal, the young man tasked with carrying out the honor killing, arrives in the village and is torn between his sense of duty and his growing doubts.

Chapters 11-15

Tensions rise as the village awaits Meryem's fate. Irfan's involvement in her case deepens, and he finds himself drawn to her in ways he never expected. As the characters' lives become more entwined, the novel delves into the complexities of love, honor, and the clash between tradition and modernity.

Chapters 16-20

Meryem's impending fate reaches a critical point, leading to a series of dramatic events that challenge the characters' beliefs and convictions. As the story hurtles toward its climax, the novel explores the profound impact of love and the struggle for justice in the face of entrenched societal norms.

Main Events

  • Meryem's rape and the subsequent scandal that rocks the village
  • Irfan's arrival in the village and his growing connection to Meryem
  • Cemal's internal conflict as he grapples with his assigned task and his changing feelings
  • The dramatic events leading up to the resolution of Meryem's fate
  • The exploration of love, honor, and the clash between tradition and modernity

Themes and Insights

Honor and Tradition

The novel delves into the concept of honor and the rigid traditions that govern the characters' lives. It highlights the destructive impact of honor-based violence and the deep-seated societal expectations that perpetuate such practices.

Love and Compassion

Amidst the turmoil and tragedy, the novel portrays the transformative power of love and compassion. It explores the ways in which genuine human connection can transcend cultural barriers and bring about profound change.

Justice and Redemption

The pursuit of justice and redemption lies at the heart of the story, as the characters grapple with their own moral dilemmas and confront the injustices that plague their community. The novel raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of justice and the possibility of redemption in the face of adversity.

Reader's Takeaway

"Bliss" offers readers a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of love, honor, and the human capacity for compassion and transformation. Set against the backdrop of a traditional Turkish village, the novel weaves a compelling narrative that challenges societal norms and sheds light on the complexities of human relationships. Readers will find themselves deeply invested in the fates of the characters as they navigate the tumultuous terrain of honor, tradition, and the enduring power of love. O.Z. Livaneli's masterful storytelling leaves a lasting impression, making "Bliss" a truly unforgettable literary experience.


"Bliss" by O.Z. Livaneli is a profound and emotionally resonant novel that delves into the lives of its characters with sensitivity and insight. Against the backdrop of a traditional Turkish village, the story unfolds with a compelling blend of drama and poignancy, challenging readers to confront the complexities of love, honor, and the clash between tradition and modernity. Through its richly drawn characters and thought-provoking themes, "Bliss" offers a deeply moving literary experience that lingers in the mind long after the final page has been turned.

Bliss FAQ

  1. What is the genre of the book 'Bliss'?

    Bliss is a novel that falls under the genres of historical fiction and contemporary literature.

  2. Who is the author of 'Bliss'?

    O.Z. Livaneli is the author of the book 'Bliss'.

  3. What is the setting of the story in 'Bliss'?

    The story is set in Turkey and spans across different time periods, including the 1970s and the present day.

  4. What is the main theme of 'Bliss'?

    The novel explores themes such as love, war, political turmoil, and the impact of historical events on individuals and families.

  5. Is 'Bliss' based on real events?

    While 'Bliss' is a work of fiction, it is inspired by real historical events and the author's own experiences, providing a rich and realistic backdrop to the story.