It was good to see last Saturday’s book signing event for ‘Tales from the Expat Harem’ so well attended by both Turkish and foreign residents of Fethiye.  Read our report of the event and review of the book here.

It was good to see last Saturday’s book signing event for ‘Tales from the Expat Harem’ so well attended by both Turkish and foreign residents of Fethiye.  The event was held on the terrace outside the restaurant of Ece Saray, Fethiye and the editors, two young American women, married to Turks and living in Istanbul, were impressively attentive to all those who attended.  They signed books and answered questions, and went on to read and speak to their audience as a whole.

The book, which comprises 32 experiences of Turkey written by foreign women who have lived here – and in the main still do – is available from the Fethiye Natur Kitabevi (bookshop) at 22 YTL. It has already caused quite a stir in Istanbul as can be seen from their excellent website www.expatharem.com. The Fethiye Times review follows.
 
Review

Tales from the Expat Harem edited by Jennifer Eaton Gokmen and Anastasia Ashman

Don’t be deceived by the title.  As the editors state in their introduction, the title was deliberately chosen to ‘titillate’ and none of the contributors write from the perspective of life in purdah.  Instead this book is surely destined to feature on academic reading lists for women’s studies in English-speaking countries around the world.

Anastasia and Jennifer spent almost two years compiling the book.  They advertised widely for contributors, edited and re-edited, and the results are impressive.  Thirty two accounts of life in Turkey written by women of seven nationalities, ranging from a teenager, to middle aged contributors with many years of life in Turkey.  Geographically the women cover the whole of the country from Istanbul to Cappadocia via Bursa, Erzerum and the far reaches of the south east in Mardin.

One Turkish reviewer has compared the book to the writing of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife to the British ambassador who arrived in Constantinople in 1717 and wrote extensively on the lives of Turkish women.  I prefer to quote another British woman, Julia Pardoe, who visited Turkey in the 19th century and wrote of her experiences.  The one theme that runs throughout the accounts in Expat Harem is that of the kindness and friendliness of Turkish people.  In 1839, in her book ‘Beauties of the Bosphorus’ Miss Pardoe writes:

“….the courtesy, kindness, and friendship, which I universally experienced from the natives of the country, and the veneration which I felt for their many virtues, tended greatly to endear them to my heart……….”

Whilst Turkey changes rapidly and is poised to become a fully European country, it is good to see that some things haven’t changed in almost two hundred years.  For further proof read Tales from the Expat Harem.

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