Satanaya and the Houses of Mercy

The Chronicle of a Circassian Girl

By Christopher Ryan
Published by Hakawati Press

£13.50 / $17.54 / 101.96 TL
($/TL approx)

Paperback, 382 pages, first published 2018
Book Description

Satanaya, the young daughter of Circassian refugees in Ottoman Palestine, is trainee cook in the kitchens of the famous Convent of Seydnaya near Damascus. An innocent affair with a local boy hastens her exit from the convent. Her departure comes with a strange inheritance: an old cooking pot, a wooden spoon and a cookbook, left many years earlier by the legendary cook Takla. The book contains Takla’s recipes and the correspondence of an Egyptian Bey, in all a treatise on good taste in food and love.

At the villa of the Lady Gülbahar, whose parties and soirées are renowned throughout the Eastern Mediterranean for their good food, fine wines and illustrious company, Satanaya enters the wider world of fin-de- siècle Beirut, then administered by France. Under Lady Gülbahar’s wing, and with Takla’s Cookbook as her vade mecum, she plunges wholeheartedly into the life of an emerging modern world.

Satanaya is an explorer of mysteries: of food, of love, and of her own self. A true nomad of the spirit, she experiences the dangers and delights, the heartbreaks and homecomings, while travelling through the Levant and Turkey in the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire.

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