Mary Lee Settle first visited Turkey in 1972. She found the country and its people to be intriguing and friendly. Settle did not leave Turkey until 1974. TURKISH REFLECTIONS documents her return to Turkey in 1989. She also takes the time to incorporate pertinent historical and cultural facts which have helped to shape contemporary Turkey. The book does not delve into the complicated world of politics. Instead, Settle uses her novelist’s eye to make thoughtful observations of the unexpected places she visits and the generous people she meets.
TURKISH REFLECTIONS is alive with the electric activity of Istanbul. Settle visits the noisy markets as well as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. At every stop on her journey, she pauses to make historical comments which enhance the readers’ understanding of the mystery that is Turkey. When she reaches the Black Sea, the author makes the point that this coast was the supposed home of the mythical Medea. The one constant of the entire odyssey is the honesty and friendliness of the Turkish people.
Settle is dismayed, though, by the Western trappings that now have taken a foothold in this ancient land. The music of Michael Jackson and large luxury hotels seem not to add to the enchantment of Turkey. Settle would rather have the reader beckoned to Turkey by its Byzantine splendor, its volcanic pinnacles, underwater gardens, the Turkish wine, and especially the resilient people. Indeed, TURKISH REFLECTIONS persuasively portrays Turkey as the ideal vacation stop for anyone adventurous enough and/or curious enough to discover a country which has remained unfamiliar to most Western eyes.