Set in Corfu in the late 1940’s, this amazing novel powerfully captures the devastating internal Greek war between royal loyalists and communists that took place after WWII ended. The brutal fighting, which broke out in the mainland and spread to islands such as Corfu, devastated families and sent thousands of children into either protected children’s villages opened by Greek’s Queen Fernando or into the front lines as abused child soldiers for the communists.
In a poor village in Northern Corfu, Marco and Katerina grow up best friends. Marco’s grandmother used to work on the royal family’s Corfu estate, and his mother played with Prince Phillip (who goes on to marry Queen Elizabeth of England. Princess Alice of the royal family promised to look after them but had to suddenly flee due to the arrest of her husband and exile of the royal family. Since then, Marco’s family has fallen on hard times and barely has enough food to survive. Katerina, an only child, adores her parents and her mom’s close friend who lives isolated on a mountain with a flourishing garden.
As communists descend on their village and townspeople flee, events conspire to separate the two best friends who make a vow to be family to each other as well as find their way back home to their remote village. Decades will unfurl with all the lasting impact of the war, a revealing look at the family history of the Greek royal family and its intertwinement with Britain, and the overlay of Greek mythology stories infused into the children’s lives.
This historical fiction sweeps you along from Corfu’s picturesque town squares to the devastation wrought by war, and slow rebuilding of the island’s vibrancy. It’s powerful storytelling and strongly wrought characters brings this piece of history dramatically alive.
Thanks to Harper Muse and NetGalley for an advanced reader’s copy.