Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Romance of the Med'

The Romance of the Med. Part 1

Here are a few of my favourite photos, capturing some great moments over the time we have been coming to stay in Lemnos. These pictures convey something of the beauty of the island, and the enjoyment we and our family and friends have experienced here.

Writers try to capture what it is that intrigues them about the Mediterranean. They do it with pictures, words, recipes, histories, and travelogues. I expect we all have some of their books on our shelves. Below are a few books and novels from my library. You may have read or seen some of these, and there are many more.

There is no denying that the Med’ is a drawer card for explorers, tourists, cooks, tavern keepers, academics, journalists, historians, house hunters, escapists. But, there is one common denominator, they are romantics all!
Explorers, Cooks, Tavern keepers, Academics, Journalists, Historians, House hunters, Escapists, but Romantics All!
Bouras Gillian.  A Foreign Wife (Penguin Books Australia Ltd.,1990). This well-known Australian writer tells of her difficulties accepted as a new wife in a Greek family and  in a small village community. She has also written A Stranger Here (Penguin Books Australia, 1996). This book is a novel that looks at the lives of three women and studies their feelings of displacement living in Australia and Greece.
Clift Charmain, Mermaid Singing (Indianapolis, 1956), tells of living with her husband, another Australian writer, and her children on the island of Kalimnos in Greece, with a sponge diving community.
David Elizabeth. A Book of Mediterranean Food This is an old Penguin Handbook and one of the first of hers I read, and I almost devoured all of her books I could find. Her recipe books are a delight to read. With these books she introduced the English to Mediterranean food just after the war.

De Vries Susanna. Blue Ribbons and Bitter Bread: The Life of Joice Nankivell Loch (Pandanus Press, 2000). The book tells the life of an Australian woman who, after an adventurous upbringing in Australia, spent her life helping refugees in Europe. She eventually settled in Greece on the Halkitheki Peninsula near Mount Athos. Here she helped villagers find work by reviving their old carpet-making skills. She was decorated by the Greek Government for her work with refugees.

Doody Margaret. Aristotle Dectective: The Secrets of Life (Arrow Books, 2004). This is the third of the Aristotle Detective series, the first two are Aristotle Detective, and Aristotle and Poetic Justice. The authors knowledge of ancient Greece is amazingly detailed and visual. Though the cast of ‘thousands’, all with Greek names is daunting, especially for a non-Greek.
Drinkwater, Carol. The Olive Route: A Personal Journey to the Heart of the Mediterranean (Orion  Publishing Co., 2007) With many interesting stories of people she visited along the way Drinkwater tells of her travels around the Mediterranean to find out more about the history of olive growing.

Durrell Gerald. My Family and Other Animals (Penguin Books 2004),  and Laurence Durrell, Bitter Lemons (Axios Press, 2009). These books are filled with the joy and pleasures of expats living in vibrant Greek communities, the first is about Corfu, the second about living in Cyprus.
Fortescue Lady., Perfume from Provence (Black Swan 1920) was written in the early 1930s. In it she talks about moving to live in a village in France with her husband. She describes her house and garden with great affection, mixed with a few local anecdotes.
Gage Eleni. North of Ithaka (Bantam Press, 2004). Eleni is the daughter of Nicholas Gage who wrote a book called Eleni about his mother. This book was later made into a film and it told of her imprisonment and execution during the Greek Civil War. Eleni, the grandaughter, goes back to rebuild the family house. This is the book that most echoes our building adventures while also drawing on references to the family’s past.

Greene Jeffery.  French Spirits:A House, a Village, and a Love Affair in Burgundy (Harper Perennial, 2003) Greene tells in lyrical prose the story of turning and old presbytery into a home. He is an American poet and I find his account charmingly sympathetic to the neighbourhood and house.
Hislop Victoria., The Thread (Headline Publishing Group, 2011). This novel tells the story of a family living in Thessolinki. It is based largely on Mark Mazower’s book, however the novel involves a family with multi-racial connections telling their story, and that of Saloniki, from 1917 to 2007.
Humphrey John and Christopher. Blue Skies and Black Olives (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., 2010). A tale of house building in Greece, written by a father who is an ex BBC journalist, and who does up a cottage in a part of Greece where his son is already living and bringing up a family.

Kazantzakis Nikos., Zorba the Greek, translated by Carl Wildman (Faber and Faber Ltd.,1961). In some ways this book shocked me, but it did prepare me for what it might be like to live in a small very tightly organised Greek community.
Klimi Julia, At Home in Greece (Thames and Hudson,) Julia Klimi gained access to thirty-five private homes and has captured the very Greek essence of each, though each is very different.

Miller Henry. The Colossus of Maroussi, (first published in 1941, republished in Penguin Books 1950). This book is an impressionistic account of Miller’s travels through Greece as a very young and poor writer. He arrived at the invitation of Lawrence Durrell and left as World War Two loomed.

Mole John., Its All Greek to Me! (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2004). This book is about an English banker who came to Greece and lived there 30 years. This is very much a story of house building in Greece.

Perry Clay, Boleman-Herring and Fermor Patrick Leigh. Vanishing Greece (Conran Octopus, 1991). This is a photographic essay on Greece introduced by Patrick Leigh Fermor who, like Clay Perry, had conducted a passionate love affair with Greece over many years. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, another philhellene, has written the text. All three are aware that by the end of the twentieth century the landscape and the traditional way of life may have changed irrevocably. 

Roland, Betty. Lesbos; The Pagan Island (F. W. Cheshire Pty Ltd.,1963). In 1961 Roland spent a year on the island of Lesbos. This Australian author spent an interesting time on this island, one of the closest islands to Lemnos. Lesbos houses the municipality of the Northern Aegean, and so is more politically important than Lemnos however there are close ties between these two island, and many Lemians marry folk from Lesbos.
Slesin, Suzanne, Stafford Cliff and Daniel Rozensztroch Daniel. photography by Gilles de Chabaneix, Greek Style (Thames and Hudson, 1988). This book is one of a series dealing with the unique decorating style of particular countries. In this book they show the range of styles found in Greece, from that of the northern mainland with its mountain and oriental influence, to that found in the Cyclades, Ionian and Dodecanese islands, with their white-washed fishing villages.
Stoeltie, Barbara and Rene. Living in Greece (Taschen Germany, 2002) The two photographers have photographed twenty two different houses, illustrating the way in which detail supplies atmosphere.  
Stone Tom, The Summer of my Greek Taverna (Simon and Shuster, 2003). This is the story of an American who moved to Greece, and lived there for 22 years. He describes some of the Greek characters he got to know and includes a lot about his cooking experiences, plus recipes. He has also written Greek dictionaries and phrase books.

Zable, Arnold. Sea of Many Returns (Text Publishing, Melbourne Australia, 2010) In this book the author discusses the seagoing life of many who live on Ithaka. He draws on his own experiences of returning to Ithaca with his Greek wife over the years. Although this island is far from Lemnos, and set in another sea, this story reveals how many Greeks journeyed past Lemnos on their way to trade around the shores of the Black Sea.
Zinovieff Sofka., Eurydice Street, a place in Athens (Granta Publications, 2004). The writer marries a Greek. This book details the first year of her life after the couple with their two daughters move back to live in Athens.   She writes knowingly about the rites and rituals that Greek families all observe, and quite lot about what it means to live in Athens.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Julia,

    I found your blog through the Mediterranean Garden Society page. Thanks so much for the list of recommended reading. I do have Lady F's book but still have to read it.

    Happy days.