Life on the Golden Horn
Travelling through the wartorn Balkans with her husband on what proved to be a wholly useless diplomatic mission to Constantinople, Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) left a vivid, informative, clever account of her adventures in the mysterious, sophisticated culture of Ottoman palaces, bathing places and courts which - even as her husband's career was falling apart - she could not have enjoyed more. "Great Journeys" allows readers to travel both around the planet and back through the centuries - but also back into ideas and worlds frightening, ruthless and cruel in different ways from our own. Few reading experiences can begin to match that of engaging with writers who saw astounding things: Great civilisations, walls of ice, violent and implacable jungles, deserts and mountains, multitudes of birds and flowers new to science. Reading these books is to see the world afresh, to rediscover a time when many cultures were quite strange to each other, where legends and stories were treated as facts and in which so much was still to be discovered.