Portrait of a Turkish Family is a masterpiece of memoir writing. Irfan Orga was born into a prosperous family in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire. His mother was a beauty, married at thirteen, who lived in the seclusion of a 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 1941 Irfan Orga arrived in London, and seven years later he wrote this almost painfully honest portrait of the extraordinary story of his family's survival. It is a compelling read, beautifully written, and full of insights into both ancient traditions and the changes brought about by war and revolution.
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