Set during World War II, a British Diplomat and his wife are posted to Athens, and though Hugh loves it, Evadne doesn’t so much. Until they are posted to Crete and live in a run down old house. Evadne immediately falls in love with the house, the village and the people and stays on when Hugh is posted back to Athens. Evadne, called Heavenly by the locals as they can’t pronounce her name, becomes fast friends with Anthi and ends up falling in love with a young man named Christo, who is doing up her house. Can their love affair withstand the war, not to mention what happens after the war when Hugh returns? What will that mean for the lovers?
This was a luxuriously slow book. Normally I’d say a slow book is utterly boring, but this was perfect for life in Crete. It was rich and descriptive and allowed me to really get to know the characters. To like some, question others, and really want to stab some in the eye. I really enjoyed the evolving love affair between Heavenly and Christo, but it did take a bit too long to come about for my taste. I was incredibly proud of Anthi for taking responsibility (finally) for her bastard husband and taking care of him (i.e. he died), but would really have liked to have shaken her for being so blind and stupid to what had been happening to her daughter. Grr!
I didn’t like the ending of this book. There, I said it.
If you are thinking of reading this book as a light holiday read, don’t. Unless you like reading a tragedy on your holiday. The end is utterly depressing.
Stop now if you don’t want the spoilers.
Heavenly and Christo had a baby near the end of the war, but of course with the end of the war meant Hugh coming back and he couldn’t find out. So Christo whisked the baby away and gave him to his sister as a “war orphan” to look after. And they never saw each other again. Broke my heart, broke Heavenly’s, probably broke Christo’s too but at least he got to see his child every day. Years and years later Heavenly dies and Christo dies at the same time, even though they were separated by miles.
Let’s jump over to Anthi and I was so happy that she actually fell in love and found out what a loving relationship was like, with a Kiwi and moved to New Zealand. Her girls grew up and became successful etc, etc.
Asides from the depressing ending with Heavenly and Christo, it was all wrapped up rather too quickly for my liking. Given the slow pace of the rest of the book, the end was just bam, one thing after another and all happened far too close together. So it was a bit unsatisfying in that respect.
Despite all that, I did enjoy reading it. It was probably just more the fact it made me cry at the end that I didn’t like!