"What would you say if I told you that I have been in a Harem where the winter apartment was wainscoted with inlaid work of mother of pearl, ivory of different colors and olive wood, exactly like the little boxes you have seen brought out of this country . . . such is the palace of my lovely friend, the fair Fatima . . ."
The first Western woman allowed to talk to a Sultan and befriend his harem, Lady Montagu lived with her ambassador husband in Constantinople from 1716 to 1718. In an era of great letter writers, she was considered a virtuoso. Not an easy read, but her explorations of the Middle East are fascinating for the most part, full of insights available from no one else, and fun if you enjoy delving into this era and 18th century English.