An Aegean sunset, the breeze, soft and warm against my bare skin, dining in an outdoor café, senses assailed by the salty air of the Mediterranean and the fragrant spices of Turkish cooking — something I can only dream about in suburban Melbourne, where I live.
Reading Anatolian Days & Nights, Joy E. Stocke and Angie Brenner’s new book, subtitled: A Love Affair with Turkey, is almost as good as being there.
The most aromatic book I have ever read, it had me salivating from page one; I haven’t been to Turkey but I feel like I can taste it.
Joy Stocke, a travel writer and editor of the online magazine, Wild River Review and Angie Brenner, freelance writer and former bookstore owner, write about Turkish cuisine, whether in private homes or cafes, in loving detail and oh-my-goodness, every meal they have is a feast for the eyes, nose and taste buds.
Not surprisingly, Joy has compiling a Turkish cook book on her to-do list.
Experienced travelers in Turkey, Joy and Angie first met in 2001 when they volunteered to help a friend by running a small guest house on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.
The beginning of an enduring friendship they coped with the friend’s sulky male partner while trying to turn a rundown pensione into a profitable concern. Not so much a travel book as pages from a `day-in-the-life-of’ diary, Joy and Angie share with readers the good, the bad and not ugly, but sometimes frustrations of travelling in Turkey.
The text alternates between Joy and Angie’s depiction of people and events; friendships are forged and Turkish society is peeled back to reveal fascinating intimate detail of family life and values in large cities and villages where not much has changed since ancient times.
The writing, uniformly good, the descriptive sequences are often poetic and always absorbing.
A Whirling Dervish festival, Istanbul, Ephesus, the Black Sea and Mesopotamia are all described with empathy and great enthusiasm for the people met and the places visited.
Neither author moralises about Turkish cultural or traditional customs which may be at odds with western society’s view of civilised practice – they write it like it is and allow readers to make up their own minds.
Joy, an indefatigable traveler, is supported in her wanderings by a sympathetic husband and daughter who wait patiently at home for the next instalment of her Turkish adventures. Angie, single, and I suspect, an incurable romantic, generously shares with readers a brief love affair with a Turkish guy.
A crescent moon above, a dark eyed lover by your side – a romantic or not, it would be hard to resist.
If you are planning a trip to Turkey don’t leave home without a copy of Anatolian Days & Nights in your backpack.
It’s a worry free guide to tripping around in Turkey and gives info on transport, tours, local customs, sights and sounds not to miss, and the whys and wherefores of safe travel in a country where adventure awaits around every corner.
If you’re not lucky enough to be going to Turkey, take the tour with Joy and Angie; read Anatolian Days & Nights, it’s an exciting intriguing journey.
Janet Walker, Guest Author Spotlight Stories, The Culture Concept Circle 2013