Monday, 11 January 2016

Tales from the Expat Harem - Book Review

I believe that a book that transports you to another place is the most rewarding read you can get. A book that allows you to experience a different culture or unknown feeling from the comfort of your easy chair, bed or garden, or even the less comfortable perch in the smallest room in the house, is one to rave about.

Reading Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey (Seal Women's Travel) (UK link - for US link see Amazon picture below) will make you feel like you have experienced a little of life in Turkey. It is nearly three hundred pages of expat women telling their tales about life in a country that bridges east and west, that even within its own borders joins the modern and the traditional.

Let me ask you this. How would you react if the community you loved living in insisted you sacrificed a sheep because you found the perfect house to live in? Hard to imagine for many, but Pat Yale tells us how she reconciled a Turkish custom with her own personal beliefs.

Then there's Amanda Coffin who shares her story of dealing with unwanted advances by Turkish men in the East of the country; a similar tale here in the Netherlands would most likely end in the issuing of a restraining order but, calm and mindful, Amanda tackles the problem directly herself.

Family tensions, princess weddings, cross country road trips, archaeological digs, religion, belly dancing, food, parties and shopping, Tales from the Expat Harem has it all.

Tales from the Expat Harem is a cultural adventure that takes readers on a journey of emotions through the voices of 29 women who have lived through experiences in Turkey, women who made a new life there for love, adventure, work, religion or study. Together they share the colours of a village wedding, the sounds of a bazaar, the taboos of gender interaction, the culture of a religion, the tradition of evil eye charms, the richness of the Turkish landscapes and the intimacies of Turkish bath houses.

Abandoning stereotypes. Learning a language. Embracing a culture. Accepting a tradition. Adapting to new customs. These are the keys for foreign women in modern Turkey. In fact, these are the keys to being an expat just about anywhere.

This is expat lit that captures the imagination of readers, that educates, shares and enlightens. If you really want to know what expat life is about, read Tales from the Expat Harem.

For more info about the "Tales from the Expat Harem" book and contributors visit

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