As Easter is often a great time for relaxing with a book ‘Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa’ is on a Kindle offer from April 18th. To see the offer CLICK HERE.
I based this historical novel on a true story of a young woman who lived in my home village of Kritsa, Crete. Although her name was Rodanthe villagers now call her Kritsotopoula meaning Girl of Kritsa.
In the troubled times of Ottoman oppression a local Turk ruler had Rodanthe abducted as he wanted to marry her. An odd way of courting I’ve always thought! After escaping his clutches Rodanthe escaped to the mountains wearing his clothes. Here she maintained her disguise to live and fight among a band of Christian rebels as Beardless Manolis.
Each May the village holds a memorial service to recognise the bravery of the rebels fighting against the Turks with special regard for the brave lad whose severe injuries revealed he was in fact a woman.
When I researched the life and times of Rodanthe two key mysteries sparked my imagination – 1) What equipped a young village girl to fight alongside men? 2) How did she maintain her disguised? Answering these questions resulted in the novel.
Throughout the story, I included scenes featuring foods and celebrations that remain part of village life today. Easter is a good example and in this excerpt Rodanthe is with her new friend, Thea as she reminisces about an odd Kritsa tradition.
‘Before I was born, Turks took most churches for mosques or stables, although they left the one near our house where my papa is the pappas. One of my earliest memories is of Papa being distraught when the aga demanded his church bell because Turks needed metal. Papa thought it was just another way of demoralising Christians a week before Easter, but Turks hadn’t reckoned on the ingenuity of Grandpa and his friends! They used stolen black powder in the hills above the village to tell God we’d not forgotten Easter.’
Intrigued, Thea sat next to the girl, ‘Go on.’
‘Covert whispers alerted us to an Easter Sunday miracle due at dusk. Mama took me to our flat roof and held me close, then pointed out a puff of smoke blossoming from the cliffs. Seconds later a boom, louder than thunder, made us scream. With the blast echoing around the hillside the shock waves moved the ground beneath our feet like an earthquake. By the time the second explosion rang out everyone in Kritsa was watching. Loud cheers welcomed each of the next six clouds of smoke, then fell silent in anticipation of the explosion. It was fun. The Turks thought themselves under attack. The aga, our local ruler who’d been with one of his wives, ran into the street wearing only a sheet. It was over before any officer mustered a force, so Christian folk shouted, “Christ has risen!” and hurried home. Embarrassed, Turks just melted away. The best joke is that it has happened every Easter Sunday evening since then. Although troops try to catch them, the culprits choose a different site each year.’
Although it was illegal, this tradition of exploding dynamite on the evening of Easter Sunday continued right up 2016. Last year a group of villagers got around the ban by exploding detonators on private land. This year Greek Easter is one week behind the Catholic/Protestant Easter and as I’ll be in Kritsa, I’m looking forward to finding out if it will be an explosive celebration.
If you’d like to download your copy of Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa CLICK HERE. Afterwards, I’ll be pleased if you take a few minutes to leave an Amazon review. As any author will tell you, each valued review means so much. Thank you.
This seems a good time to let you know I’ve written another novel, Rodanthe’s Gift about the continuing struggle for freedom. As well as Kritsa and Crete the action moves to mainland Greece to feature the Missolonghi siege, another explosive Easter! To see details CLICK HERE.
Whatever you do for your Easter, have a lovely time and if you get time to read so much the better.
Kalo Pascha – Happy Easter. X