Thursday, 24 January 2013

Katie Hickman “Harem”

I remember when I was in Beijing, the first thing I wanted to see was the Forbidden City. The name of the city added a lot to my desire to visit it. Harem means “sacred, forbidden”. If you would like to know how Turkish harem functioned, here's the book for you.

The book has two story lines. The first one takes place in the past, in the late 16th century. It is a story of how the bride of the British diplomat in Turkey, Celia, entered the harem as a concubine to Sultan.  Through her adventures, you learn about the hierarchy in the harem  and the fates of concubines. Will Celia break free? Read a book. Another story happens in modern times.  A post graduate student, Elizabeth, investigates the fate of Celia. Elizabeth starts her research in England and ends up naturally in modern Istanbul where she meets someone...

Harem managed to seduce me, so I spent few weeks there:). This is how the East (where all is taken to the extreme) operates. It is impossible to resist to sweets with a lot of honey, to fabrics of contrasting and pure colors and to the mystery veiled by Arabic ornaments.

I wanted to wander around Istanbul. The last time I was there, the Harem was closed for reconstruction. My passion for Turkey was increasing and I found myself eating Turkish food during few evenings:). 

Magnificent century
Then I found series "The Magnificent Century" in Internet.The film is about the reign of Sultan Suleiman (the events described in Hickman's “Harem”, occur after the reign of Sultan Suleiman). I found more of Harem than war in the film. An interesting story line of a real historical character, Ukrainian women, who was sold to the Turkish harem, became the favorite concubine of Sultan Suleiman... But that's another story. I can only say that watching gorgeous costumes, delicate Arabic ornaments, the actress playing the mother of sultan (they say she was Miss Universe 1965) gave me an aesthetic pleasure. 

The final accord in my "Turkish period" was that I flew with Turkish Airlines this month. While waiting for my plane in Istanbul airport the first thing I did was to eat baklava:)

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