This was the author’s first novel. Elena Poulous, a Greek-American attorney, gets the surprise of her life one weekend when the police notify her of the death of a Yiannis Poulous. Having never heard of him, she is somewhat further mystified to learn she has been listed as next of kin, nominated to settle his affairs. Her immediate task, apart from arranging his funeral, is to interrogate her family about this man and discover why she has never heard about him. But she heads straight into one brick wall after another, the most tight-lipped of her kin being her mother, Kristina. Who was this man, and why is everyone so reluctant to talk about him?
The plot, in black and white, doesn’t really sound that compelling, but, the emotions that emerge from this Pandora’s box of secrets, kept for so long, pack such a powerful punch, you are kept well and truly glued to the pages. Yiannis Poulous had no idea his humble request would bare some truths and make those whose lives he entered look at themselves very closely. He had no idea how some revelations would improve fragile relationships.
This is written with sincerity and feeling. Each and every character means something to you and you care deeply how each will fare. The threads of Greek culture and religious beliefs woven into the tale, and their importance, add dimension and interest to the drama.
Although an excellent debut, however, I really would urge the author to ensure her next novel is better edited than this one. There were endless errors which were irritating (amongst them a name change for poor old Giuseppe Mazzini who became Manzini). But the writing was good, the story well structured, the characters well developed, so there was plenty to keep me happy! Certainly an author to keep an eye out for.