My Greek Books
Welcome back to My Greek Books! I’m reading some “non-Greek” books as potential competitive titles for my novel. Plus, it’s been a little crazy at my house, so I haven’t been able to read as much as I like. But this month, come along to New York with one of my favorite authors and to Athens in the early days of WWII.
Keep reading to discover what’s new in My Greek Books.
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Love by Design (The Meraki Series Book 2) by Effie Kammenou
(Effie Kammenou; 1st edition (March 24, 2021)
Greek-American Author Effie Kammenou is back with the much-anticipated Love by Design. This is Book 2 in ‘The Meraki Series’. Last year, I interviewed Effie about the first book in the series, Love is What You Bake of It. Read it here. This gifted author also penned ‘The Gift Saga‘ series. I’m privileged to call her friend. In Book 1, we learned about Kalli. I couldn’t wait for Book 2, to follow the story of the next sister, Mia, and I was not disappointed.
A young graphic designer, Mia Andarakis works for a New York magazine publisher. Noting her hard work and talent, the publishers transfer her to a new luxury magazine. But it’s run by the handsome and enigmatic Nicholas Aristedis, who happens to be her secret crush. Something about her makes him arrogant and harsh. Disappointed by what she thinks is his true nature, she doesn’t know that she’s awakened feelings in him that he’s fought so hard to suppress. And when he discovers they have a deeper connection, he struggles even more.
The pair gets to know each other as they travel to exotic locales for photo shoots for the magazine launch and Nicholas helps to uncover Mia’s grandfather’s mysterious disappearance. As they grow closer, can they overcome their fears and take a chance on love? You’ll have to read it to find out!
This is a fun and quick read. It’ll transport you to New York, Greece, Italy, and immerse you further into this Greek-American family. And as soon as you finish, you’ll be asking when Book 3 comes out. I love learning more about this family. Can’t wait to meet the other sister in Book 3.
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The Lame Angel by Alexis Panselinos, translated by Caroline Harbouri
(Recital Publishing, November 1, 2020)
Originally published in Greek in 2002, this is the first English translation of work of Acclaimed Athens-based Author Alexis Panselinos. The retired lawyer bears an impressive pedigree—he’s the son of Author Assimakis Panselinos and Poet and Novelist Ephie Pliatsika-Panselinos. He’s married to Lucy Dervis, also a novelist. In 1982, he published his first book, a collection of short stories. In 1985, his novel, ‘The Great Procession” (Η Μεγάλη Πομπή) garnered a Novel State Prize, and he’s won multiple wards since.. His books have been translated into Italian, German, Polish, and Romanian. Learn more about him here.
Forced to feel New York to escape the mafia, Greek-American private detective Angel Sotiriou finds himself stuck in Athens at the start of WWII. He speaks Greek and hopes to establish an agency in Athens, but he doesn’t know much about how things work in his mother country. As the Nazis occupy Greece, he finds himself in dire straits. With no money, no food, and in danger of losing his home, he meets a powerful, mysterious man, who pays him handsomely to carry out an assignment. This client will change his life forever.
I’m not quite finished with this 495-page tome, so I’m eager to discover how it ends. It’s an intriguing tale that reminds us that just when we think all hope is lost, something or someone comes along to save the day. Plus, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the desperation of wartime Athens.
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Another good read
Not Greek but could easily be a tale about a Greek family. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna (Ecco Press – April 28, 2020) by Juliet Grames takes us from Calabria pre-WWII to Connecticut. This family saga (464 pages!) follows Stella Fortuna, a woman who from her earliest days, survives many near-death experiences. She’s beautiful and smart, but these experiences make her strong and clever–traits she uses to protect her younger sister but incite the wrath of her dominating father. Her best times are in the village while her father is away in America. He doesn’t send money, so she, along with her mother and siblings forge their own life and their own ways, much to his chagrin. Because when he returns, he demands they obey his inane and harsh rules and requests.
As WWII breaks out, the family leaves the village to join the father in Connecticut. Immigrating to America is good and bad, as they have access to opportunities here, but along with it comes the everyday presence of the father. Her father abhors Stella’s independent mind and insists on controlling her. She tries to make her own way, but ultimately, she isn’t afforded that luxury.
The story is told from the perspective of a modern-day relative, who tries to make sense out of the antagonist relationship of Stella and her sister Tina, who were always so close, and who Stella always protected. This tale reminds us how hard women have fought for their independence and the ability to make their own decisions, separate from their families. We’re also reminded of the struggle of early immigrants. Passages about how they ate meat often “because they could”, and how new immigrants processed and adapted to their new life vs. village life, really struck me.
Ultimately, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a compelling tale about families, secrets, immigration, the American Dream, and a women’s struggle to live life on her own terms. Check it out.
My Greek Books—April 2021 Edition
That’s it for this month. My stack of books is growing and I can’t wait to share with you what I’m reading next! Books open new worlds to us and transport us from the everyday. They offer welcome distractions. They teach us. And they send us on new adventures. What are you reading? Share it in the comments below.