Life on the Golden Horn – Book Review

This is number 6 in the ‘Great Journeys’ series by Penguin.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu travelled to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1716 with her husband who had been appointed ambassador to the Ottoman Empire by King George I. This idea didn’t turn out very well and they were recalled in 1718.

I’ve not seen any of the other books in the series in a second-hand bookshop anywhere, so I must try harder as this was an excellent book and really well edited because there’s hardly any repetition of information in the letter in this book.

They travelled through modern day Holland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria before arriving in Adrianople where they stayed for a number of months before reaching Constantinople.

Between Vienna and Belgrade they passed through the town of Peterwardein (now part of the city of Novi Sad) where 7 months previously there’d been an almighty battle between the Austrians and the Ottomans which the Austrians won. The detritus of battle and the skeletons of men, horses, and camels were still visible to the travellers.

However, this book is fascinating mainly because of the author’s descriptions of the lives of the ladies of the Ottoman Empire and the riches of their dress and jewellery where no expense was spared with emeralds, diamonds, pearls, and other precious stones worn on a daily basis.

Lady Montagu is quite taken with certain aspects of the architecture of buildings, the design of the clothing, and the lifestyle of the ladies and cheerfully admits that some things are better than in England and in Western Europe, although slaves are of course ever present in the background, so you have to bear that in mind.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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