My Greek Books
My Greek Books is back, with some new reads to add to your list. This month I read in multiple genres, including memoir, historical fiction, and a fantasy with lots of supernatural beings! Come along and find out what I’ve been reading this month.
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Cretan Courage: The Milatos Cave and Beyond by K.L. Karavatos
Gatekeeper Press (June 27, 2022)
California-based Author K.L. Karavatos is a plaintiff attorney by day. Her paternal grandparents came to the US from Crete, armed with stories that have shaped the history of Crete, Greece—and her family. She shares her family history through tumultuous years in Crete, including Ottoman occupation, brutality, fights for freedom, and separation. From hiding in a cave to coming to America, this book is full of history—things you won’t find in the history books.
Review of Cretan Courage: The Milatos Cave and Beyond
I’ve read stories of Cretan Resistance and grit. But in Cretan Courage, K.L. Karavatos chronicles important history. Heartbreaking stories of pain, separation, loss, struggle, and survival—battles for life, home, and country—there’s so much more for us to learn—and learn from. Cretan tenacity and resilience are legendary, and Cretan Courage reminds us why. Chicago friends, there are people from our community mentioned in the book that descend from this family. I had no idea of their ancestors’ storied past. We all must learn this history. Add this one to your list.
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The Priest Fainted: A Novel by Catherine Temma Davidson
Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (January 7, 2014)
Of Greek and Jewish descent, Catherine Temma Davidson was born and raised in California, but “fell in love with a young English professor”, and followed him to London, where she currently lives. She’s a poet, which is evident in her eloquent prose full of beautiful imagery. Among her accolades are awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Dorothy Daniels Award from PEN, and First Prize at the L.A. Poetry Festival. She has published two poetry books, Inheriting the Ocean and Behind the Lines. The Priest Fainted was her first novel.
About The Priest Fainted
If you’re wondering if this title was inspired by the dish Iman Bayildi, you are correct! I love this from the description, so I’ll just share it here:
“Imam is a recipe known throughout villages in Greece, handed down from mother to daughter. If you come from these villages, your history is passed on through your body.
Its full name is imam baildi, and it means the priest fainted. Perhaps the priest was given a bit of bitter and sweet pleasure, and the power of everything behind the dish pushed him off his rock, just for a moment. Perhaps, when he was tumbling through the air, sighing with fear and ecstasy, he saw a glimpse of a new life to come.”
So poetic! The book, The Priest Fainted, is about a young Greek-American woman who returns to Greece to learn more about her mother’s and grandmother’s lives. She delves in, looking at herself and her family through the lens of reimagined myths. During her extended stay, she deepens relationships with her family, and learns more about her elders than she anticipated. And in those stories, she gains insight, but also learns more about herself.
Review of The Priest Fainted
I typically only write about newer books here, but I really enjoyed this one and wanted to share. Not only for the beautiful, powerful prose, but for the story. In her reimagining of myths, she connects the past to the future, and shows that though we think we are different, we’re really just retelling stories.
Also, the author reminds of us of the complex relationship shared by mothers and daughters. As daughters, we sometimes think we know better, or our mothers just don’t understand. And as mothers, we want to protect and impart wisdom, though it’s not always viewed in that light. This relationship is bound by something almost mystical that isn’t easily explained. And as we grow and learn—including learning more about our mothers before they were mothers, we gain the insight, the understanding we were missing—or not ready to receive or accept when we’re younger. But in knowing these things, we know them—and ourselves—better. As a daughter whose mother has passed on, and now as a mother myself, this story was especially poignant and evocative.
In this beautifully written novel, Catherine Temma Davidson takes us to those younger days, when we couldn’t and didn’t understand, to travel a road to knowledge, to understanding, to self-realization, and greater love. I don’t think she’s written any other novels, but I truly hope she will.
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Delilah Recovered by Amelia Estelle Dellos
Atmosphere Press (August 17, 2022)
Chicago Greek Author Amelia Estelle Dellos is a marketing & PR maven, a screenwriter & director, and an MFA candidate at Columbia College Chicago. Her films have won numerous accolades, including Sundance International Writer’s Lab Finalist, Chicago International Film Festival Pitch Winner, and the Women’s International Film Festival Finalist. An earlier version of Delilah Recovered won the 2017 Watty Award from the international story platform Wattpad. Amelia has led writers groups and is very supportive and encouraging to her fellow writers.
About Delilah Recovered
Dee, an unemployed accountant in Chicago, goes to a job interview. While it doesn’t go as she planned, it sets her on a course she’d never imagined. Though Dee doesn’t know she’s a powerful witch named Delilah, descended from Joan of Arc—her prospective employer does. Then one night she’s attacked by witch hunters, and everything starts to unfold, including repressed memories that could mean life or death.
She learns her family is the guardian of the ring, but has no idea what ring, its significance, and why her family has spent hundreds of years hiding her true identity to protect it. In order to help her mother, she risks everything to travel through time, to France, the Salem Witch Trials, and more, to uncover the past and assemble all the missing pieces. Supernatural beings arrive in Chicago to thwart her efforts. She discovers that she herself is the guardian and ends up in an epic battle of good and evil.
Review of Delilah Recovered
Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure to read parts of Delilah Recovered in various drafts, and I’m so happy to hold this book in my hands. Amelia has done extensive research and with her abundant creativity, conjured a compelling and imaginative story full of history, intrigue, and a little bit of magic. She makes it easy for us to dive into Delilah’s world and follow her on her quest. It’s like she waved her magic wand and zapped us into the story, and we want to not just cheer Delilah on, but help her in her quest. And in that, she reminds us that there’s a little Delilah in all of us—and it’s time to live up to our true potential and be who we were always meant to be.
The book officially launches on Halloween—perfect for this witchy tale. I don’t read many stories in this particular subgenre, but it makes me want to explore some new worlds.
My Greek Books—October 2022 Edition
That’s it for this month! I’ve got some great stuff on deck for next month, so be sure to check back for the next edition of My Greek Books. Happy Reading!