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Literature

Christina Pishiris’ Charming Debut Novel: Love Songs for Skeptics

March 29, 2021

Reading novels offers a wonderful opportunity to experience a world unfamiliar to us, through the eyes of characters who can be as different from us personally as you could possibly imagine. In some rare cases, a novel and its characters can be so close to our own experience it can be jarring and almost too familiar. Love Songs for Skeptics: A Romantic Comedy by Christina Pishiris is a delightful debut novel which manages to enchant and entertain the reader while balancing between the two extremes.

Greeks, Greek-Cypriots, and philhellenes will definitely recognize some of the characters who inhabit this novel, while the world of music magazine publishing might be a bit unfamiliar to most readers. Those of us who write for newspapers and magazines and interview people regularly will also find realistic and amusing details in the book which are undoubtedly drawn from the author’s own experience as a journalist.

Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents, Pishiris studied English at the University of Sussex and went on to become a journalist reporting on the television industry. Her main character, Greek-Cypriot Zoë Frixos is an editor at a major music magazine in London. While Zoë “gets the whole love song thing,” as the book’s description tells us, her own love life is “a bit off-beat.”

After falling hard for her best friend, Simon, at age 13 and missing every chance to tell him how she felt before he left town, Zoë came to one grand conclusion: Love stinks. Twenty years later, Simon is returning to London, newly single and as charming as ever, and Zoë vows to take her second chance. But Zoë's got other problems now: In order to save her magazine from closing down, she has to land the biggest interview of her career with a notoriously elusive rock idol. There's just one problem: Nick, the arrogant publicist who seems determined to stop the story and ruin Zoë's life.

With her brother's big(ish) fat(ish) Greek wedding on the horizon, Zoë begins to wonder if her first love is the right love. In the wake of a life-changing choice, Zoë must decide if she's right to be skeptical about love, or if it's time to change her tune.

Pishiris draws the reader in from the very first sentence of the book, “I’m not saying I don’t believe in love, but my last relationship ended after twelve days.” From that sentence onward, the author carefully crafts a charming and compelling story with strong characters, touches of humor, and a carefully compiled playlist for musical accompaniment.

Music is a major part of this story and is beautifully incorporated into the storytelling, from the chapter titles, which are all from well-known song titles, to the musical references throughout the book and the handy Love Songs for Skeptics Playlist included at the end.

The scenes with Zoë’s family are priceless and Pishiris said in an interview included in the paperback edition of the book, “I love my Greek Cypriot heritage, although like Zoë, I was a bit embarrassed by it when I was younger. My parents forced me and my sister to go to Greek school on Saturday morning for 10 years, and although I hated it at the time (or at least, until I was about 13 and discovered boys), I’m so grateful I learned the language and made Greek friends that I still have to this day.”

Love Songs for Skeptics: A Romantic Comedy by Christina Pishiris is available online and in bookstores.

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