Well, it's always good to have an excuse to eat more Greek yoghurt, though I'm not convinced of the need to cook with it when you can just eat it with honey. Or make tzatziki.
Tzatiki for you to say! you may retort. Or perhaps you may not, but that leads me nicely to my next point, as it is the title of a completely enjoyable book I purchased recently, written by Rhodes resident John Manuel. He and his half-Greek wife have lived on the island for many years, and the book has true warmth and depth of knowledge; although each of the chapters is a stand-alone piece rather than part of a bigger story, you build up a picture of what life can be like in a quiet spot on the island.
I learned such nifty tricks as how to keep insects off the fruit trees, laughed out loud at descriptions of how to paint trees with lime, and got ideas of places to explore on the island. The piece that affected me most, though, was his poignant illustration of the detrimental effects of big all-inclusive hotels. I'd heard Rhodes residents talk of this before, but he showed how it affects the whole community - and the travellers too, who have a poorer experience. It's a fine book for anyone interested in Greece, has a great title of course, and the good news is that there are several other books in the series, as well as a novel, The View from Kleoboulos. And Manuel writes a blog, Ramblings from Rhodes.
Living in Kyrenia, Susan was among the group of internationals who were caught in the crossfire when war broke out in Cyprus. The account of bullets whizzing past as they hide out near the UN camp is gripping, and I certainly learned a lot. The speculation that her husband at the time might have been a double agent adds intrigue. But what I loved most about the book was Susan's spirit and her ability, in spite of the many difficulties she experienced, to see the positive and to build a new life for herself as an independent woman in Frankfurt, surrounding herself by great friends. 'I lost a child, but found myself. Went through a coup and a war. Lost everything I owned... My married died. But I survived.'
Soon after finishing that book last weekend, I had to take the long ferry journey from Athens to Tilos, and luckily managed to pick up a paperback book for my 17-hour journey: Victoria Hislop's The Thread. Most of you will already know this is her novel about Thessalonika during the first half of the 20th century. I am coming to the party a little late because I struggled to connect with her Spanish book, and it's pure luck that I found this and decided to give it a try.
It tells the stories of a small circle of people who lived through the through population exchanges that took away the Muslims and brought Greeks from Asia Minor; fires that destroyed homes and livelihoods; and German occupation during World War Two - I can hardly bear to read it at the moment as the Jewish families have been forced to leave and sent to Poland. But I'm wrapping this up now so I can finish it tonight. It is superbly written, an extraordinary work of imagination and memorable details.
But before I go, one last exciting piece of news, just in! OK, it's not a book about Greece, but Kosovo, not so very far away... Elizabeth Gowing, author of Travels in Blood and Honey, has a new book out at the end of May called Edith and I: On the Trail of an Edwardian Traveller in Kosovo. I read a couple of early chapters and it was utterly beautiful, so I can't wait to read the rest! Look it up, and pre-order - you'll be in for a treat.
Happy reading! And before I go, thank you again to all the people who continue to send lovely messages about Falling in Honey, or who have written nice reviews. I'm enormously grateful.
* sorry, but that joke made me giggle when I thought of it... I was walking back from Skafi and must have been high on the smell of wild sage