The Jasmine Isle

Ioanna Karystiani, Author, Michael Eleftheriou, Translator Europa Editions $14.95 (282p) ISBN 978-1-933372-10-5
Set on the Greek island of Andros during the first half of the 20th century, Karystiani's first novel to be translated into English centers on Orsa Saltaferou, a jovial teenager who falls in love with charming and sensual fisherman Spyros Maltambes. But when the time comes to settle down, her imperious mother, Mina, decides that Spyros is not the man for her daughter and arranges a marriage to the richer Nikos Vatokouzis, also a fisherman. Without a word of protest, Orsa resigns herself to her fate-until she returns from her honeymoon to find her younger sister, Mosca, married to Spyros. Further intensifying emotions, the sisters and their respective husbands must live with just a staircase between them. And because both men are sailors (as is the sisters' father), they often travel for long stretches and leave the sisters-along with Mina and many other women on the island-to look after the homes, raise their children and chat, trying to gather news about their husbands and, when it comes, the war. With a talent for crafting graceful narration and poignant dialogue, Karystiani presents a praiseworthy novel of a life caught between love and loss.
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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