A Novel Set on a Greek Island

An island view
An island view

Questions, Question, Questions

One of the commenters on another post mentioned that she is looking for a book for her trip to Quebec City.

Another wants a book for a journey to Costa Rica.

Somebody did a search for this blog by using the words “novel set on a Greek Island.”

I can handle that last one. Corelli’s Mandolin,1994. This is a fascinating, moving, funny and sad novel that I happily inhaled during a long flight to Greece. I loved the book so much, that I did not want to see the movie.  Anybody want to tell me if I should still try to find a DVD (or maybe it is only on tape)? Is it worth it?

Other Greek Island books that I loved are non-fiction. Lawrence Durrell wrote Bitter Lemons,1958, which relates the bitter post-World War II history of Cyprus as Greek Cypriots fought to unite with Greece.

Durrell’s Reflections on a Marine Venus1953,takes place in a peaceful atmosphere of his two-year stay on Rhodes. The opening is worth quoting: “Somewhere among the note-books of Gideon I once found a list of diseases as yet unclassified by medical science, and among these there occurred the word Islomania, which was described as a rare but by no means unknown affliction of the spirit.  There are people, Gideon used to say, by way of explanation, who find islands somehow irresistible.”

In Prospero’s Cell, 1955, he portrays life on Corfu.

An island village
An island village

And if Durrell does not make islands irresistible in these books, then move on to the magnificently illustratedThe Greek Islands, 1978, with his words beside the pictures. If you can find this book, it will have you packing your bags even before you’ve found the cheap flight to Athens.

If you get the idea I am a fan of Lawrence Durrell, you are right.  I have all of these books in my library, and never tire of his way with words.

So if the Internet searcher comes back looking for a novel set on a Greek Island, we’ve taken care of the question.

But what about Quebec City and Costa Rica?  Any suggestions?

And what destinations do you need a book for?

Photos by VMB, all rights reserved.

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

8 thoughts on “A Novel Set on a Greek Island

  1. Here’s one more Kefalonia novel to add to the mix. It’s a easier to read than Captain Corelli’s Mandolin but does capture the spirit of the island.

    There was a good review in The Greek Star Summer Book Review 2012.

  2. Hey Mike

    I know what you mean about Capt Correlli – I had the same problem, but 3 or 4 friends all said the same thing: plough on until about page 100 and you’ll be completely hooked to the end. I did and I was! I have to say I’ve now made it a rule of thumb that if I start any book I will read the first 100 pages (it’s only a couple of hours)… if it still hasn’t got me by that time, then I think it’s fine to give it up; but I have to say that, on the whole, it’s been worth it: some books that were difficult to start became my favourite novels simply because I’d stuck to my ‘read the first 100’ rule! Good luck.


  3. I really enjoy Lawrence Durrell’s travel books too, his descriptions are just wonderful. There’s a new novel I discovered that’s partly based on his life in Corfu, called Songs of Blue and Gold by Deborah Lawrenson. Not an author I knew before, but really loved this. It certainly qualifies as a novel set on a Greek island! Reminiscent of Prospero’s Cell but it also has its own evocative and rather thought-provoking story. Well-written too. I’m happy to recommend.

  4. They made a very good film of Pascali’s Island too. It was shot on Rhodes and Symi. If you knew the islands well, it was disconcerting in some scenes to see an actor walk down a street on Rhodes, look round the corner of the building, and be looking at Symi harbour!

  5. Mike: Thanks for the additional recommendations. I’m sure other readers here will appreciate them, as I do. I have read Zorba and Greek Passions, and agree that Katzanzakis is wonderful. I have not read Pascali’s Island, so it will go on my list.
    Sorry you don’t relate to Corelli. I still think it is magnificient.

  6. Being as ardent a Grecophile as you are, I have tried twice without success to read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I can’t get further than about 50 pages into it, as find it turgid and long-winded. I know I’m in a minority, though. And I do agree with you about Lawrence Durrell. His non-fiction books about Greece are superb. Henry Miller’s Colossus of Maroussi is another favorite.

    But a novel set on a Greek island? How about Zorba the Greek or A Greek Passion, both by the wonderful Nikos Katzanzakis, or Pascali’s Island by Barry Unsworth. Just don’t read the Magus by John Fowles. Life’s too short.

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