An Island in Istanbul: Heybeli

Ah, village life! The quiet streets, the soothing routine, the local characters, the simple comforts of a simple home…right in the midst of a bustling, brawling city of 12 million people?!

That’s what Mary Ann and Ben Whitten discovered when they moved to Heybeliada, an island just off the coast of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara.

Inhabited for centuries as summer residences for the wealthy, the Princes’ Islands (Adalar in Turkish) still hold many fine old Ottoman-Victorian-era houses, some in need of repair.

Mary Ann and Ben were up to the challenge, or, I should say, the challenges—many and varied—of finding, buying, repairing, restoring, owning and living in a comfy, characterful house on an island in the middle of a sea and a city.

The writing is fluent and accessible, the scenes nicely drawn, the local scene captured with insight, sympathy and humor.

I visited the Whittens on Heybeliada in the spring of 2007. I laughed out loud! When I entered their house it was all familiar, even though I had never laid eyes on it before. After reading An Island in Istanbul: At Home on Heybeliada, it was though I had lived in the house myself. What a treat!

The Whitten’s Istanbul is a world away from whatever you may have heard or experienced about this ever-intriguing city, and yet it is recognizably Istanbul in all its beauty, frustration and reward.

A delightful, insightful read!

Click here to buy it online from Nettleberry(recommended)

Click here to buy it online from Amazon.com

An Island in Istanbul: At Home on Heybeliada, by M. A. Whitten
IstanbulAdali Yayinlari/Islander Editions, July 2006
ISBN 975-9119-05-6, softcover, 13.5cmx19.5cm, 200 pages, US$12


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