For several years now, we Turks have been engaged in an internal dialogue regarding our recent past. The past tells us where we come from, who we are; it also informs the choices we make for the future.
Into this mix comes Grace Beyler's letters. Written between 1969 - 1971, Grace records the events of a troubled period that has shaped our country ever since. Although primarily concerned with her own struggles and those of her Turkish fiancé's family, Grace's letters also reflect a time when our young republic was undergoing profound changes, politically, socially and economically. The book, in its way, becomes a metaphor for contemporary Turkey.
While recounting her own heart-warming story, Grace draws a picture of life before television, mobile phones, global brands and mass tourism. Using many different strands, she weaves a tapestry filled with adventure, pathos, humour and romance. Despite the difficulties around her, Grace sees through the superficial to the heart of the Turkish people, their warmth and friendship, their support and acceptance. Whatever her criticisms, we ultimately feel that she is cheering us on as we search for our place in the modern world.
Regardless of the topic under examination, Grace remains open in her outlook, objective in her assessment, and eager in her desire to learn and understand. She always seeks the truth and, in the process, examines our shortcomings while acknowledging our strengths. Written in a style that is both sure and light, the reader is engaged from the outset and is drawn immediately into Grace's world, one where laughter and tears exist side-by-side.
This is social history written from a very personal point of view, but one which enables us to see ourselves as others see us. We are grateful to Grace Beyler for her wonderful letters and thankful that she has chosen to share them with us.