cover image A HOUSE IN CORFU: A Family's Sojourn in Greece

A HOUSE IN CORFU: A Family's Sojourn in Greece

Emma Tennant, . . Holt, $23 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6897-9

Tennant, a London-based author (Sylvia and Ted), offers a delightful memoir of the years she spent visiting her parents' home on the Greek island of Corfu. During a vacation, Tennant's parents, then in late middle-age, became captivated by a remote area on the West Coast of the island. They bought a parcel of land above the bay—where Odysseus is said to have been shipwrecked—and built Rovinia, a house inaccessible by road; during the winters, rough waters made it impossible to reach the nearest harbor by boat. But isolation was precisely what her mother and father craved. Originally Rovinia was conceived as a vacation home, but in 1965, Tennant's parents gave up their London home and moved to Corfu permanently. Tennant details the problems with the actual construction of the house and the difficulties in securing an adequate water supply. As a frequent visitor, Tennant had her own room, and she came to know the island intimately. She eloquently renders the stark beauty of the landscape, the seductive, treacherous sea, the delicious cuisine (the family employed a local cook) and her family's friendships with local residents whose customs the newcomers came to understand and respect. Steeped in myth, Corfu remained virtually untouched for generations. On later visits, Tennant observed the changes wrought by the Greek military coup and increased tourism. Tennant's father died on Corfu in 1983, but Rovinia is still a beloved refuge for family members. This account of an alternative lifestyle undertaken before modern pop culture had reached all corners of the earth will appeal to travelers, expatriates and their admirers. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb. 1)