ISBN #: 978-0345530684
Page Count: 432
Copyright: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Ballantine Books
(Taken from back cover)
Greece, 1940: Growing up in Patras in a prosperous family, Clio Notaris and her siblings feel immune to the oncoming effects of World War II, yet the Italian occupation throws their privileged lives into turmoil. Summers in the country once spent idling in the clover fields are marked by air-raid drills; the celebration of Carnival, with its elaborate masquerade parties, is observed at home with costumes made from soldiers' leftover silk parachutes. And as the war escalates, the events of one fateful evening will upend Clio's future forever.
This is one of those novels that you need to let sit and simmer in your mind after you've read it, especially if you're writing a review! Beneath the top layer of this story are subtle complexities that would keep a book club talking for hours. Let's begin my review there ...
Callie is a Greek-American born and raised in Boston and engaged to a man who loves her unconditionally. Callie knows that being in a relationship should be a good thing but she's so scared of losing him that she has the urge to end it now. That's how Callie survives ... with the old I'll-hurt-you-before-you-can-hurt-me routine. This result has been brought about by living with two parents who argued incessantly during her childhood. It was brought about by a mother who never acted like a mother. It was brought about by Callie's decision that this is how she needed to be in order to protect herself.
When she heads to Greece (on her own) to take care of her uncle's estate, Callie begins feeling at home. She allows herself freedoms in Greece during the Carnival that she wouldn't have allowed herself to experience otherwise. Are these actions more of Callie purposefully hurting those she loves before they can hurt her or is she acting this way because this is who she truly wants to be?
In Greece, Callie begins noticing how her mother's never really being invited anywhere. How she's always the last one called or visited. These observances, along with Nestor's estate, spur Callie to find out who her mother really is and what has made her that way. Finding the truth out about the past will always affect the outcome of the future ... and that's what happened to Callie.
I'm not going to tell you what was in her mother's past. I'm not going to tell you what happened between Callie and Jonah, her fiancee. I'm not going to tell you about any revelations or epiphanies Callie had while in Greece. What I will tell you is that this novel is a deeply thoughtful exploration into a family's essence with results that ultimately affects everyone in it. This novel is to be savored slowly, not quickly devoured in one evening. It's heavy with meaning and purpose, but it doesn't bog you down. In short, it is a stellar piece of literary fiction that should be read by fans of this genre.
*A paperback ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.