In Ottoman times they were scholars, soldiers and loyal servants of the Sultan. Cevat Pasha became grand vizier in 1891 at the age of forty. His brother Shakir Pasha pursued a military career and became an ambassador; he grew orchids and was a skilled photographer. He was shot dead by his son Cevat in circumstances that remain a mystery to this day.
Cevat was imprisoned for his crime and was sent to exile in Bodrum where he became one of the Turkey's most famous writers, known as the 'Fisherman of Halicarnassus'. His sister Aliye Berger married to a Hungarian violinist and held a legendary artistic salon as a leading printmaker in Istanbul. Fahrelnissa, another sister, married first the writer Izzet-Melih Devrim, and then Prince Zeid al-Hussein, brother of King Faisal of Iraq and great-uncle of the present King Hussein of Jordan. Amidst the many demands of her social life, Fahrelnissa was to become a highly acclaimed painter with an international following. Her son Nejad is also an artist and her daughter Shirin is a leading actress and theatre director.
Shirin Devrim interweaves stories she was told or overheard as a young child with conversations with her mother as well as material from her mother's diaries, to give a richly textured account of the personalities and achievements of one of Turkey's leading creative families.