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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars17
4.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Kindle Edition|Change
Price:£7.19
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on 26 November 1999
A haunting evocation of a childhood in late Ottoman/early Republican Turkey where the abrupt collapse of a single family's fortunes mirrors the disintegration of the old state and a dogged determination to rebuild a new life from, literally, the ashes of the old. The depth of detail in Orga's recollection of his early childhood is quite astonishing. Yet the book is as much about his mother as himself; and what he doesn't he do or say -- perhaps, as his grandmother says, couldn't do or say -- to prevent her decline from effervescent teenage bride into a deranged middle-aged widow. I stayed up until 2 am, mesmerised as the heady flow of his childhood memories gave way to fragmented anecdotes of adolescence and early adulthood and his mother's sanity too began to fracture and then collapse completely, leaving Orga as burnt-out a shell as the ruins of his childhhod home. Extraordinary to think that he should name his son Ates (Fire) when it was a fire that triggered such material and psychological devastation in his family.
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on 29 March 2009
An interesting book and I enjoyed reading it. Sadness goes through most of the pages, Irfan Orga leading us through the tragic events of his life, of his family and of his country during the first half of the 20th century.
The english is not very good ! Many mistakes and errors,but I would still recommend it.
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on 27 January 2015
The characters in the book are brought to life through the tragic events of the First World War.
We learn how the population suffered and how ill prepared the army was to go into war.
It's a story of survival and the love of a son.
Based on historic facts and touches on the rise of Ataturk and the changes that he brought in.
I enjoyed the relationships between the characters and their survival against the odds.
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on 12 December 2012
Beautifully written real life story. I couldn't drop it off my hand. I loved it and I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading real life stories.
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on 25 January 2011
Whilst spending a fascinating long weekend in Istanbul, I asked our English tour operator if she could recommend any books about Istanbul and Turkey. This book was one of her recommendations. I found "Portrait of a Turkish Family" most interesting and it greatly added to my knowledge of the country. Many of the places referred to were on our weekend tour and I found myself frequently looking at my tourist map of Istanbul whilst reading the book on my return. The book kept alive my wonderful memories of the Bosphorus. I found the 'afterword' by the author's son most interesting, telling the reader of what happened to the family in the end.
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on 2 March 2013
A book that is really moving canot be blamed for being depressing- I think this is an unfair criticism of an unusually lucid and honest account of someone's early life written in beautiful prose. Some of the events that happened were tragic- but this adds to the poignancy of the whole. I did not feel depressed at the end- just amazed that anyone could write such a book.
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on 29 May 2013
I found this book in the library when I was looking for background reading prior to a trip to Istanbul and north west Turkey. I enjoyed it so much I decided to buy it. It gives a great insight into the dying days of the Ottoman Empire as well as the personal story of a family and a way of life torn apart by the first World War. The writing is simple and direct and the author has the gift of making you feel as though you were there. Sometimes it is a little hard to follow and you feel as though bits have been missed out which would have helped to make sense of the narrative, but then it is a personal memoir so you have to forgive a few inconsistencies. Recommended for anyone interested in Turkey.
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This open, vivid biography shows how ordinary Turkish people suffered great family and economic losses during the First World War. A fresh well written account which is enlightening as much as it is educational.
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on 21 March 2014
I have read this book before, many years ago. It is a powerful and emotional story of how one family's misfortunes affects their lives. It also relates an interesting social history. Whilst very sad, it is very moving and a story that has stayed in my head and my heart over the years.
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on 9 February 2015
One of the best books I have ever read. Very emotional and heart-breaking true story. Definitely recommend it to anyone
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