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Nancy Knudsen never meant to go to Istanbul. Maybe she might have included it as part of a holiday along with dazzling European cities such as Venice, Paris or Salzburg. But, Anglican that she was, actually to live in a Muslim country, even though she had lapsed to atheism and agnosticism, seemed alien. To spend time as an ordinary citizen rather than tourist or expat corporate executive, would never have occurred to her. Knudsen’s story is vivid, lively and sometimes hilarious, full of insights into things she wished she’d known before she arrived in an all-black apartment above a sportsfield, with not a word of Turkish. She found nothing in guidebooks or histories to help her find a cut of meat she recognised or get the leaky bathroom tap fixed. She had to find her own way into what seemed at first a very strange society. After a time living with her architect husband as he lectured at a local university and she taught English to businessmen and refugee children, she had made many Turkish friends and begun to understand something of a rich, complex, ancient culture. She found she was changed forever-in ways that still astonish her. She introduces curious readers to the Istanbul she and Ted have come to love. Her personal love affair with this great city may well act as a springboard for others.
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