Thursday, 10 January 2013

Travelling to Greece: Two Books about Difficult Journeys

I recently found To Hellas and Back by Lana Penrose, and have been chuckling my way through the book.

Whereas my upcoming book Falling in Honey is about my dream of living on a Greek island and how I found my way there, Lana's story is what happens when you have absolutely no desire to go to Greece and are dragged to the suburbs of Athens by your partner all the way from Australia. He speaks Greek and she doesn't.

In clever prose she paints a vivid picture of daily struggles with life in a place where the basics are utterly confusing. I've just reached the point in the story where she is beginning to find her feet, and can't wait to see what happens. Check out Lana's work here:

In the meantime, I've been reading a very, very different story of a journey through Greece by John Mole, author of It's All Greek to Me!

His new book is called The Sultan's Organ, and it's extraordinary: the 1599 diary of young Thomas Hallam, organ-builder, who journeyed by ship from London to Constantinople to accompany a sixteen-foot high jewel-encrusted self-playing organ that was being sent as a gift from Queen Elizabeth to the Sultan of Turkey. John Mole has put the diary into modern English and it's a fascinating true story.

My Greek partner Stelios was intrigued when I started telling him details of their circuitous route -- it takes them weeks just to leave the shores of England because of pirate attacks, the fact that they were at war with Spain, and bad weather -- and wished it was available in Greek too. Hallam gives the first account of a foreigner's overland crossing of mainland Greece, and he has some amusing encounters with the people. It's worth reading for that alone.

The UK edition of my book, Falling in Honey, is due out in March in paperback, and will also be released as an audiobook, which is very exciting. John Mole, as described above, has offered a lovely endorsement for the back cover:

'If you can't escape to an idyllic Greek island, Falling in Honey is the next best thing'
John Mole


  1. I had never heard of John Mole before, but he looks like an interesting fellow.

    At the moment I am reading Daniel Klein's Travels with Epicurus, in which an old fellow tells how he went to Greece to find out what a good life might be. We are the same age and I went to Greece for pretty much the same purpose, but he is more serious about the matter than I was.

  2. I really want to read that book!
    On a very much related topic - I'm in the UK at the moment and everyone is talking about Ikaria, as the BBC has finally picked up on an article that was in the New York Times a few months ago about how people live a very long time there because of the good diet, the wine, the lifestyle...