Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Romance of the Med. Part 2

The Romance of the Med. Part 2

I have just finished writing a book about our experiences renovating the house and I’m about to self-publish. So far I have approached a number of agents and one publisher. However, though a number have wanted to see more, in the end they all say that too many similar books are being (or have just been) published dealing with living overseas. They are right. I have a shelf full, and still see more coming out in the bookstores.

These are some more I have not read yet, but have seen advertised recently and two of the writers originally set out from Australia!
1.  Claire Lloyd. My Greek Island Home. This book has a lot of pictures. It is about a house on the island of Lesbos. Claire runs a letting agency and this house is one of the places she lets.
2. Christian Brechneff. The Greek House: The Story of a Painter’s Love Affair with the Island of Sifnos, available on-line at Amazon and on, and in book shops in Athens and Thessaloniki.
3. Lana Penrose. To Hellas and Back: my modern-day Greek Tragedy. Find through Viking Penguin and


A Special Greek Island

But, ours is a one-off story, not about Lesbos, nor Sifnos, no this island story is not even any Aegean island, it is aboout Lemnos
The Island of Lemnos
Flying into Lemnos

A View Over the Island

In my last blog I talked about the Romance of the Mediterranean, and the number of people that have been captivated by life here; many different kinds of people, writing many different kinds of stories. Thus each is quite similar in many ways, but also each is different.
For instance here are just four of the books that I have read that inspired me to write, and these stories have some fascinating similarities to ours, but there are also differences.

1. Lady Fortescue Perfume from Provence. This book was written in the early 1930s about moving to live in a village in France with her husband. She gives lots of descriptions of her house and garden. I’ve read two of her other books about her life in France. Like me Lady Forescue has some old fashioned ideas, and these resonate with me.

2. Jeffrey Greene French Spirits. Jeffrey Greene is an American poet. I liked his charming and sympathetic account of the village in Burgundy and the house, an old French presbytery that he and his wife renovated. I think it is his ‘poetic’ view of life that drew me to this book.

3. Sofka Zinovieff Eurydice Street, a place in Athens. This British writer married expat Greek and the two moved to live in Athens with their children. She writes knowingly about the rites and rituals that Greek families have to observe, and quite lot about what it means to live in Athens. Well, she too was married a Greek that wanted to ‘go home’, and like me it seemed that she often struggled to ‘live the life’ within a different culture.

4. Eleni Gage North of Ithaka. Eleni is the daughter of Nocholas Gage, who wrote a book called Eleni, which was made into a film. It told of his mother’s imprisonment and execution during the Greek Civil War. Eleni goes back to her grandmother’s village and rebuilds the family house. I have wondered if she stuck with it after writing the book, as we have for ten years. However her start on the house matches our beginnings.

A Special Greek Village

Yes, Myrina is filled with Greeks like all Greek towns and villages, but here the people are  uniquely Lemnian

Looking out Over Myrina


Our neighbours standing outside their mother's old house
Myrina Sea-front in the Evening


A Greek Experience

Though aspects gave been shared by others ours was a one-off experience: that of two Australian retirees, returning to a particular family home.
My story is by a British-Australian retiree who followed her Greek-Australian husband back to his homeland, and tells how she helped him with his dream, the renovation of his grandfather’s old house on an island in the Aegean.
Looking down at the roof of our hoouse

Our nearby beach at sunset

Our adventure does follow many of the same patterns of experiences of those who have previously written about renovating an old house overseas; it is similar to those stories that tell us what it is like stay a long time in a small village and get to know the different culture; and it chimes with those that mention the torn aspect of living between two cultures.

But, while my book is similar it is the entire mix that makes the difference. Like the fact that most cakes have flour sugar and butter but each one has something else that makes it special. The spice in my story comes from time and place; being set in that period of Greek history between the Olympics and beginning of the end of the economic downturn, and set on the island of Lemnos.

The Magic Island of Lemnos

1 comment:

  1. Hello Julia, Keep writing. It's good for the soul. Your greatest readers will be your grandchildren and others like me who are first generation Australians of Lemnian parentage. In some parts of Australia, like Queensland, those of Lemnian decent are in a minority. Our Island is particularly unknown to other Australian Greeks. Lemnos in the last 2 months has received acknowledment because of the recent TV series "Anzac Girls" as it featured in 2 of the series. Another fact I can boast of to other Aussie Greeks of Island decent is that Lemnos is a productive fertile island with water supply, something that many islands lack. We are still on track to arriving in Late November for our winter holiday. Kind regards Elizabeth Becka from Brisbane