Summer reading is a great way to spend leisure time during the long, hopefully sunny days of the season. Whether you’re reading on the beach or in air-conditioned comfort, there is something relaxing about enjoying a good read in the summertime with a cold glass of your favourite beverage at hand. Add the following books to your summer reading list.
British author Victoria Hislop was granted honorary Greek citizenship last year and met with Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Greece has been a source of inspiration for Hislop in many of her books, including the bestselling historical novel The Island, published in 2005, which was set in Spinalonga, the island off the coast of Crete that once served as a leper colony. The Island was adapted into a hugely successful television series in Greece which originally aired on Mega Channel in 2010-2011.
Hislop’s latest historical novel, titled Those Who Are Loved, is set in Athens and other Greek islands, and focuses on a family divided by political differences during World War II, the Civil War, and the years that followed.
The compelling novel draws the reader into the story through the eyes of young Themis as the Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.
In the Civil War that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek. Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live. As she looks back on her life, Themis realizes how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.
The novel sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece's past through the story of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.
The Last Day of Paradise by Kiki Denis. Photo: Amazon
Greek-born Kiki Denis has lived in the U.S. since 1990. She holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College and MA from Exeter University. Her first novel, The Last Day of Paradise, published by Gival Press, won the Gival Press Novel Award. Kiki's second novel, Life is Big, was released as an ebook in 2020. Denis lives in New York with her husband and three kids.
Life is Big by Kiki Denis follows Alma-Jane, an impossibly curious 11-year-old girl who lives in New York City and is the happiest person alive, but is about to die due to a rare mutation. Ayrton, Alma-Jane’s older brother and a math prodigy, declares war against Death, “the destroyer of life,” and then suddenly takes off to Oxford, UK, to examine Albert Einstein’s brain. Meanwhile, Death and his younger brother, O.M. (Obituary Man), are overworked and in desperate need of a short vacation.
The books mentioned above are available online and in bookstores.