I’m proud to say my latest novel, Rodanthe’s Gift, is now on sale in Crete at Eklektos Book Shop, Elounda, and Nikitakis Gift shop in the upper square of Kritsa. Both the book and the Kindle version are available from Amazon via this universal link – viewbook.at/Rodanthe
The atrocities in Milatos Caves and the terrible siege of Messolonghi on mainland Greece are woven into this historical novel. Although the book follows on from Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa, it is a stand alone story.
Milatos Caves, now house a chapel to remember those who were massacred.
The Garden of Heroes, in Messolonghi on mainland Greece is now a haven of peace within the city walls. The stacked caskets represent the kegs of gunpowder a brave man used to blow up the old and infirm rather than allow them to be captured by the besieging Turk and Egyptian force.
Yvonne Payne has managed to weave many of the major events in the battle for Greek independence into this rip-roaring historical adventure. Her novel reaches epic proportions as the struggle for freedom shifts between the island of Crete and mainland Greece. The author is a great storyteller this, in harness with her great attention to historical detail, makes Rodanthe’s Gift a terrific read.
This has to be some of the most realistic writing about war, siege and massacre that I have read. Added to incredible detail about the effects of the Greek War of Independence in Crete and Messolonghi in Central Greece and the research required to produce this narrative then, like me, you should not be far into this story before you will be full of admiration. Several of the characters are based on real people, Kazanis in Crete, Bouboulina and Byron in Messolonghi and also Captain Notis Botsaris (grandfather of the highly revered General Markos Botsaris) who survived the Third Seige at Missolonghi. Woven into this gripping and sickening tale is a story of romance, of life and customs in the nineteenth century all achieved with the style and attention to detail that followers of Payne’s work have come to accept. This book is a follow-on to her first historical novel but can be read independently.
I absolutely loved the first book and was very much looking forward to reading the follow up and boy was I not disappointed. If anything I think this was even better than the first and it certainly doesn’t hang about but gets straight into the story effortlessly interweaving historical events as it goes along (I now know exactly how Hassan Pasha died 😉 :-)) with fascinating character development. I also love how you get extra background on some of the characters from the first book and this just adds even more to the read. Having said that this book would also stand up as stand alone novel as well.
I can’t recommend this highly enough to anyone who enjoys a fantastic gripping historical story that is full of human emotion, as well as anyone with a love of Crete.
I enjoyed this so much that the next thing I am going to do is go back and read Kritsotopoula Girl Of Kritsa again (for the third time).
January in Crete has been much wetter than in previous visits at this time of year. As soon as we see a brighter day forecast we plan a walk, never knowing when we’ll get the next opportunity. This fabulous walk was in the company of good friends, Hilary and Phil and as he is a walking guide we benefited from a lesser known start to this famous walk. For road directions from Kritsa CLICK HERE
For full walking direction with a Wikiloc map you can download CLICK HERE.
From start to finish the 15k walk took us six and a half hours although Wikiloc says we were only moving for just under three hours. We filled the ‘gap’ with stops to take photos, eat a picnic, explore Minoan ruins and catch our breath on some of the very steep paths.
The more popular walking route to climb Mount Oxa starts in the centre of Elounda and if you visit Eklektos Bookshop you will find walking guides for the area.
Our day proved warmer than we expected and our hats, scarves and gloves were soon consigned to our rucksacks.
Here Phil ponders whether to take us on a shorter or longer route. Of course the longer option suited us all. If you would like a personal guide for walks or excursions in the Lassithi area contact me via the form below and I’ll pass the information on.
I am writing a guide to walks in the Kritsa area and I’ll share details about this in due course.
Meanwhile, here are some of the photos of our walk to Mount Oxa so you can enjoy a virtual tour.
After walking through flat countryside we saw Mount Oxa ahead and could just see the church at the top. There is a very clear sign at the start of the path up.
The first glimpse of Elounda and Spinalonga below us was a Wow moment. We enjoyed the view over Agios Nikolaos while we ate and then more of Elounda when we walked around the headland to explore the Minoan remains. There are also remains of a church that predates the current one dedicated to Timios Stavros, the Holy Cross. According to Phil’s research there were at least 100 cisterns to serve the peak community with water and we saw several remains among tumble-down walls. Alas, we didn’t find the one reputed to have a stash of gold.
This photo shows the distant snowy tops of the Dikti Mountains. How lucky we are to have the health to climb to such wonderful places.
On the way to the centre of Elounda, Crete, just by the post office is Eklektos, a gem of a bookshop. The owner, Lynne McDonald is a font of local knowledge and acts as an unofficial tourist information centre.
From personal experience, I know Lynne loves to support authors of books set locally and I’m proud to say you can find Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa on her shelves. After a busy day out (click here to read Beryl Darby meets Kazanis) Beryl Darby and I were pleased to spend the next day participating in Lynne’s first ABC event – Authors, Books & Conversation. Held in September, the bookshop gave several author’s the opportunity to meet readers over drinks and nibbles.
In addition to local advertising, INCO – the international residents association, supported the event by sending details to their members. The shop and shady veranda buzzed with chat and laughter from the outset, and I know Lynne was delighted so many people came to meet the authors.
An invitation to participate in a Flash Fiction competition brought excellent entries. The one hundred word story could be about anything as long as it included the word, Bookshop. Clever writers covered a wide gamut of topics, funny, sad, eerie, mythological, and romantic. To read the winning entry by Vanessa Westwell, on the Eklektos website, CLICK HERE. As a prize, best selling author, Patricia Wilson presented Vanessa with a copy of her novel, Island of Secrets in audio form. Some people commented afterwards they’d have liked the opportunity to read the entries on the day. Perhaps this is something Lynne will build in if the event it repeated in 2018.
At the end of the afternoon an accordion player made an unexpected, but delightful appearance to round off the event. Here author Richard Stevens dances with his better half, Kay. Writing under the pen name Argy Stevens, Richard’s book is called Discrete Reversal and it’s on my ‘must read’ pile for Summer 2018.
As well as providing a great venue for a chat, a cuppa and local knowledge, Lynne also runs a webpage called Bookshop in Crete and a fun Facebook page,Eklektos Books. If you feel you’re missing out as Elounda is too far away for you to drop in, Lynne will send books by post – just visit her blog and select the tag labelled SHOP.
Previously in this post I mentioned INCO, the Foreign Residents Association for Agios Nikolaos and East Crete. This Not For Profit Organisation supports social, cultural, charitable and community activities. Some members enjoy the gardening club, camera club, gentle walking, weekly coffee and natter sessions, ad hoc days out, quizzes, and fund raising among other activities. Each member participates in as much or as little as they wish. If you are unfortunate enough to need time in hospital then the INCO network can answer questions and allay fears. Members don’t need to live full time in Crete.
JOIN INCO – for a subscription of just €10 per year you get a warm welcome with lots of contact information and emailed activity updates. There are members to take your details and subscription in many places including Elounda, Limnes, Kritsa and Agios Nikolaos. If you’d like to know more you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or ask Lynne in Eklektos bookshop.
I’m well aware this has been a tough year for Lynne, and as well as thanking her for supporting me as an author, I like to take the opportunity of wishing her and the fabulous Eklektos Bookshop a great season in 2018.
Perhaps this is a good time to draw up my must read list in 2018 – easier to stick to than resolutions! In no particular order my list includes Monica – Beryl Darby, Discrete Reversal – Argy Stevens, Seraphina’s Song – Kathryn Gauci, Villa of Secrets – Patrica Wilson, The Ariadne Objective – Wes Davis. I’ll add another two books when John Manuel publishes his next novel and Richard Clark publishes his guide to East Crete. Oh what a surprise… my ‘to read’ list is full of books set in Crete. What about you? What’s on your must read in 2018 list?
Finally, Happy New Year!
Author of Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa and Rodanthe's Gift