I absolutely loved this book! It’s a delightful, humorous account of life in rural Greece, as it’s perceived through the eyes of two Scots who decide to spend a year in a Peloponesian village. I got to love all the quaint characters described in this book. My personal favourite was Foteini who’s been portrayed with such tremendous sensitivity that it was impossible not to love her like a family member by the end of the book.
What can I say about Wallace, the dog? The author recounts so many hilarious antics that it seems that a great part of the merit in this book is owed to this adorable pet alone. I laughed outloud to read about his infamous bathroom trick and also his obsession with eating chicken. I don’t think I’ll ever see a backpack again without thinking of chicken sandwiches!
Marjory McGinn has written a book that brims over with love for Greece and the Greek language. It is evident in so many ways, like the way she sides with the locals when the British expats attempt to trash them, the way she allows for the quirkiness of the Greeks, the respect with which she regards unfathomable local customs and acts, and last but not least, in the way she keeps quoting the equivalent Greek word, so often, quite needlessly. But she obviously does this not in an attempt to show off her rich Greek vocabulary. It is crystal clear that she does it only with love, extending to the reader an invitation to share in her affinity for the language itself. This particular point made me choke with appreciation. I found it so incredibly sweet. Also, I found all the examples of her mistakes in Greek terribly hilarious. It made me think how many Greek words can sound almost the same to the untrained, foreign ear. I cringed to think how embarrassing it must have been for her to be teased so much by the locals!
I’ve read numerous books by British authors who’ve recorded their experiences with fixing up the odd dilapidated house in various parts of Greece. All the accounts managed to irritate me, both with their arrogance and intolerance towards the Greek way of life, as well as with the many inaccuracies their stories included. Thankfully, this book was a breath of fresh air. It caused in me zero offence and zero annoyance. Being the competent, talented journalist that she is, Marjory McGinn sticks to the facts and gives objectively a delightful account of the locals and their antics without passing judgment or even implying that they are less civilized or knowledgable than herself.
But it wasn’t just life in the village that was a pleasure to read about. There were also numerous historical references that I found utterly interesting. Whichever part of Greece the author mentions traveling to with her husband and adorable pet, she offers a thorough account of the local history, myths or legends. Unlike all the other books of the sort that I’ve read, again, this book stands out for this fact too, showing that the author had to research heavily for the book. Her trouble to do that betrays her love for my country and its history, which again I found myself appreciating immensely.
All in all, this is the best book of its kind that I’ve ever read. It had it all: humour, wit, interesting facts, and a good measure of sentiment. Marjory McGinn is a truly talented author and I’m really looking forward to a sequel!
“A delightful, quaint portrayal of rural life in Greece”
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