The one that came to mind this week is Portrait of a Turkish Family, by Irfan Orga. It was about three years ago to the exact date that I added Turkey, in particular Istanbul, to my collection of travel destinations - and it instantly became a favourite. From the Hagia Sophia to the Blue Mosque, the sights, smells and colours of the bustling markets to the sweet taste of Turkish tea - Istanbul was a city that captured me.
And so too, did this book. An autobiographical account of a young man who grew up in a prosperous Turkish family in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire.
From the back cover: Irfan Orga's mother was a beauty, married at thirteen, who lived in the seclusion of the harem, as befitted a Turkish woman of her class. His grandmother was an eccentric autocrat, determined at all costs to maintain her traditional habits. But the First World War changed everything. Death and financial disaster reigned, the Sultan was overthrown and Turkey became a republic. The family was forced to adapt to an unimaginably impoverished life. In 1942, Irfan Orga arrived in London, and seven years later his wrote this story of his family's survival.
|Inside the Blue Mosque|
It is a lovely, gentle story, where the author's love for his family and his country shine through. And I have since fallen in love with Turkey myself. Although yet to return, Istanbul and the many other places that make up this extraordinary country are definitely on my list of places to return too!