I knew Kostas Krommydas as an actor from his career on Greek TV (and now from The Durrells of Corfu in the UK too) but only recently discovered that he is also a wonderful writer with a great following in my country of Greece. When this book, being one of the author’s Greek bestsellers, was translated into English, I jumped at the chance to read it, especially as it was based on a true story – something that intrigued me further.

If I were to describe this book in one word, I’d say it’s ‘cinematographical’. I guess I should have expected nothing less from a fine actor such as Krommydas; his story has created a host of vivid images in my head that I still can’t shake…some are happy and tender, others are tragic and heartbreaking. As I read I felt like I was there on the tiny island where the story unfolded for the most part. The terrible atrocities that the Germans carried out on the island just before they departed at the end of the war filled me with upset, just thinking that this might have happened in real life. For a few days after finishing the book, the injustice and the tragic end of some of the characters continued to haunt me…

I love historical fiction, and tragic family stories with dark secrets as it is, but this book certainly stands out for the masterful storytelling, the multi-dimensional characters and the flow that is continuous and smooth. I found the book hard to put down, up until the last page, the two timelines merging seamlessly, the characters feeling so lifelike I wished there was a contact at the end of the book so I could write to the real family behind this novel and offer my sincere condolences. But I cannot do that; I can only speak for this book and say that it is one of the best books of WWII Greek fiction I have ever read. For drama and originality, I personally put it up there with Bernières’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin… I highly recommend you pick up this book and see where it takes you. It certainly filled my mind with sunny skies and generous views of the Aegean. I will definitely read more from this author.

My rating:

5 stars!

Highly cinematographical… a heart-rending WWII story set on a tiny Greek island

Do you enjoy tragic family stories from WWII? How about historical romances with dark family secrets? This book is a must!