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Literature

Two Books to Add to Your May Reading List

With spring in full bloom and the days growing longer, now is the time to replenish that reading list. Add the following books to your list

‘Diva’ by New York Times bestselling author Daisy Goodwin tells the story of the scandalous love affair between the most celebrated opera singer of all time and one of the richest men in the world.

According to the novel’s description: “In the glittering and ruthlessly competitive world of opera, Maria Callas was known simply as la divina: the divine one. With her glorious voice, instinctive flair for the dramatic and striking beauty, she was the toast of the grandest opera houses in the world. But her fame was hard won: raised in Nazi-occupied Greece by a mother who mercilessly exploited her golden voice, she learned early in life to protect herself from those who would use her for their own ends.”

When she met the fabulously rich Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, she believed, for the first time in her life, that she had found someone who saw the woman within the legendary soprano. She fell desperately in love. He introduced her to a life of unbelievable luxury, showering her with jewels and sojourns in the most fashionable international watering holes with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
And then suddenly, it was over. The international press announced that Aristotle Onassis would marry the most famous woman in the world, former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, leaving Callas to pick up the pieces.

In this remarkable novel, Goodwin brings to life a woman whose extraordinary talent, unremitting drive, and natural elegance made her a legend, but it was only in confronting the heartbreak of losing the man she loved that Maria Callas found her true voice and went on to triumph.

Daisy Goodwin is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels ‘The American Heiress’ and ‘The Fortune Hunter.’ She attended Columbia University’s film school as a Harkness scholar after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, and was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. She is the screenwriter and executive producer of the PBS/Masterpiece drama ‘Victoria.’ She lives in London.

‘The Greek Fire: American-Ottoman Relations and Democratic Fervor in the Age of Revolutions’ by Maureen Connors Santelli examines the United States’ early global influence as the fledgling nation that inserted itself in conflicts that were oceans away. Santelli focuses on the American fascination with and involvement in the Greek Revolution in the 1820s and 1830s. That nationalist movement incited an American philhellenic movement that pushed the borders of U.S. interests into the eastern Mediterranean and infused a global perspective into domestic conversations concerning freedom and reform.

The Greek Fire: American-Ottoman Relations and Democratic Fervor in the Age of Revolutions by Maureen Connors Santelli. Photo: Amazon

American men and women identified Greece as the seedbed of American democracy and a crucial source of American values. From Maryland to Missouri and Maine to Georgia, grassroots organizations sent men, money, and supplies to aid the Greeks. Defending the modern Greeks from Turkish slavery and oppression was an issue on which northerners and southerners agreed. Philhellenes, often led by women, joined efforts with benevolence and missionary groups and together they promoted humanitarianism, education reform, and evangelism. Public pressure on the U.S. Congress, however, did not result in intervention on behalf of the Greeks. Commercial interests convinced U.S. officials, who wished to cultivate commercial ties with the Ottomans, to remain out of the conflict.

‘The Greek Fire’ analyzes the role of Americans in the Greek Revolution and the aftermath of U.S. involvement. In doing so, Santelli revises understandings of U.S. involvement in foreign affairs, and she shows how diplomacy developed at the same time as Americans were learning what it meant to be a country, and what that country stood for.

The above-mentioned books are available in bookstores and online.

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