I read a lot of books that are either based in Greece/Cyprus or feature Greek characters and I must admit that sometimes I can become disinterested with the Big Fat Greek Wedding type similarities and mechanical descriptions of the Greek landscape.
Not so with my latest read EVANTHIA’S GIFT by the wonderfully talented Effie Kammenou.
Effie’s debut novel is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down.
In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets – ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.
The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.
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The first outing in the Gift Saga series, the novel spans several decades and is set partly in war-time Greece and partly in New York. The story follows the lives of Ana and her daughter Sophia and the trials and tribulations they both face in life and love. The characters are relatable and their problems recognisable particularly for those who come from a close-knit Mediterranean background where everyone is in each other’s pockets!
Despite being a love story, cultural identity and damaging historical events are central to the plot and generational struggles caused by tradition, religion and fear play out as Effie takes the reader through the years.
Beautifully written, well-paced and bursting with emotions and plots twists, Evanthia’s Gift is everything you could want from a love story, with a wildly romantic setting thrown in for good measure.
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What other reviewers are saying:
“I fell in love with the families in Evanthia’s Gift. The stories, predicaments and secrets of the characters are still tugging at my heartstrings. I can’t get them out of my head. I enjoyed reading about their Greek heritage, beautifully combining religious celebrations, history and even traditional Greek recipes into this satisfying story of love and struggles that spans generations.”
~ J. Stephenson
“Magnificent 5 Stars. Exceptional, outstanding and award worthy were the first words that popped into my mind after I finished reading this book. A surface description of this story could be easily stated by saying; it’s a 50 year generational Greek family saga that’s filled with multiple love stories, devastating betrayals and heart breaking secrets. That depiction alone would be enough for anyone to be drawn to this book. But the essence of “Evanthia’s Gift” is held within each character created in this masterpiece; that is the true heart and soul of this book.
I could feel the struggles within each to come to terms with their past mistakes, recognizing their self-worth, all the while staying steadfast to their beliefs and for some, finding inner peace. I started reading this book late one evening with the intent of reading a few chapters and then going to bed. I found myself incapable of putting the book down… several hours later I was wiping away the tears to get through the last chapter.
This superbly written emotional story comes full circle in the end, which reminds us all just how precious love and family really is.”
~ Stephanie Lasley from The Kindle Book Review
“It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. Effie Kammenou weaves a story so believable, with characters so real, you’ll relate elements to your own story. You won’t be able to put it down. You’ll feel the emotions of the characters and live the story with them. You’ll shed tears when unexpected tragedies strike the families, and when Evanthia’s gift is finally revealed, you will feel bittersweet joy. We’re also reminded that our parents have our best interests at heart, and we don’t always know what happened in their lives that made them who they are and make them do what they do. Greeks and non-Greeks alike will appreciate this story, as will children of immigrant parents who have lived a life straddling two cultures, with all of its joys and challenges.”
~ Maria A. Karamitsos – Founder & Editor, WindyCity Greek (www.windycitygreek.com)
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You can find her books and follow Effie on social media using the links below:
So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of Evanthia’s Gift now!