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Reading on the beach

Summer is the time where you can relax and easily read a book or more. This summer the Visit Greece team suggests some novels that include in their story Greece’s history, people, places and its unique atmosphere.

The excellent novel of Patricia Highsmith The two faces of January (1964) made a comeback due to the movie released in 2014. This award winning American psychological thriller writer places the story’s action in Greece during the ‘60s, in Athens and Crete. A young American con artist escapes his incarceration in the US by running away to Greece with his wife where they meet a tour guide and get involved in the death of a private detective.

The historical novel The Island (2005) written by Victoria Hislop, is set on Spinalonga Island in the old castle – east of Crete, - which from 1905 to 1957 served as a leper colony and today is one of the most popular destinations in Crete. The story is about an English woman called Alexis aiming to find out about her family’s past and finally discovers her roots on Spinalonga.

The great American writer Henry Miller wrote in 1941 the classic novel The Colossus of Maroussi.Lawrence Durrell - who lived in Corfu - wrote The Alexandria Quartet in 1962. Durrell invited Miller to Greece in 1939. Miller then visited the islands and Greek mainland, where he met Greek intellectuals and delivered his personal impressions of his journey in his book.

Many followed Miller’s and Durrell’s steps and they loved and wrote about the country. British Patrick Leigh Fermor wrote the famous travel book Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese (1958). Fermor's fellow countryman John Fowles got inspired by the island of Spetses in the Argosaronic Gulf and wrote The Magus (1966) - one of his finest works where the protagonist comes of age in the Greek landscape. The French writer Jacques Lacarrière wrote an essay L'Été grec (Greek Summer) in 1976. British poet and archeologist Peter Levi describes his journeys in Mani, Crete and Olympia as well as people and facts of the ‘60s and ‘70s in his book The Hill of Kronos (1980). Don DeLillo in 1982 - one of the major writers of the American postwar period - lived for a few years in Greece and wrote the novel The Names, where he displays the plot of enigmatic cults and a number of mysterious murders.

Two more recent books with an international appeal explore the modern Greek image. Patricia Storace – an American poet that lived in Athens - wrote Dinner with Persephone (1996) which is a description of Greece that delicately balances between the Eastern and Western Civilization. Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens (2004) is the story of Sofka Zinovieff’s first year as an Athenian.

Two police novels conclude our list of reading where all the action takes place in ancient Athens. Claude Mossé - a French historian specialised in the history of Ancient Greece - wrote Meurtres sur l'Agora (1995) where its story unfolds during the Great Dionysia* (also called city Dionysia) in 349 B.C. The Athenian Murders (La caverna de las ideas, 2000) is the novel of Jose Carlos Somoza whose story takes place after the Peloponnesian War.

Happy Reading! Enjoy under sunscreen protection! 

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*Ancient Dramatic Festival in which tragedy, comedy and satiric drama originated, it was held in Athens in March in honour of Dionysus the God of Wine.

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