shortlisted for book of the month
1944 & 1994 / WWII
Another great book from an author who knows the country so well and writes of it so poignantly.
Nefeli lives with her eight-year-old daughter Georgia and owns the Blue Dolphin Tavern near the coast on a small island. She was widowed four years earlier and is now struggling to make ends meet. The village ladies think it is time for her to marry again. They select a husband for her and, in order to provide Georgia and herself with a secure future, she agrees although her heart isn’t involved in the bargain. One night while walking on the beach, she discovers a badly injured Luftwaffe pilot. She knows that if the villagers find him, they will kill him, and should she decide to help him, she would probably be killed also. Nevertheless, she is a compassionate and pious woman who feels it is her duty to help him. She does not anticipate the feelings he would arouse in her which seem to her like a betrayal of her country.
In this book, the author has created a portrait of life on a tiny remote island that I suspect has changed little over the centuries. The peaceful existence is brought to an end by the war. The descriptions of the landscape and cobalt blue roofs, of warm breezes and Homer’s wine-dark sea will evoke memories in anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting the Greek Islands – and depict a stark contrast to the violence that unfolds.
Like all good stories, this one incorporates elements of betrayal and tragedy, romance and heroism, conflict and resolution. The author uses simple prose to portray simple people, and just a few words are enough to give us a feel for the characters.
It was a slow starter, but the scene was set very well in the beginning. Another great novel from a prolific author.
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
© Susan Appleyard