This fascinating account by the foremost authority on the Ottoman period draws on a wealth of sources to paint a picture of a little-known world - the life of women during the six centuries of Ottoman rule. Forming the highest strata of society were the princesses and the great ladies who achieved political power, and the author brings to life the great strength of character many of them showed. Much more is recorded about life in the palace than in humble homes, but even here much can be deduced. The book also explores clothing and cooking as well as adventurous travelling over surprising distances. Birth, marriage and death, the three great ceremonies in life, are also described. The strange laws affecting slavery are related to their effect on everyday life from the Harem to the humblest tasks. The final chapters of the book move into the nineteenth century in the search for the truth of what it meant to be alive in the final years of the declining Ottoman empire.