I have read books that are considered character studies, and I would have to say that in this novel, the main character is the Greek city of Thessaloniki. Sure, there are a number of actual characters who walk her streets and call her home, but it is Thessaloniki that changes and evolves over the years while shaping and defining its inhabitants. Despite a devastating fire, The Great War, Nazi occupation, poverty, civil war and other perils, Thessaloniki witnessed generations of families surviving the city’s upheavals.
Dimitri is born into a wealthy family, but his particular sense of patriotism is at odds with his domineering father’s nationalism. Katerina comes to the city as a small child and a refugee. Their lives are forever connected by the city they call home, even as war and policy keep them apart. This is the first time I have ever read anything that illustrates the history of a Greek city during the first half of the 20th century. I hadn’t realized how WWII affected the nation, how threatening communism was, or how people in this part of the world lived. Besides Katerina, there are some wonderful female characters such as her strong-willed adoptive mother Eugenia and Dimitri’s stoic, agoraphobic mother Olga. Thessaloniki became a familiar place to me as I read about its close-knit community throughout the decades.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via TLC Book Tours.