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1 January 2018
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have been very impressed by Kathryn Gauci’s earlier books but this book confirmed this author as one of serious literary merit. Written in the first person it is set at a time when refugees from Asia Minor, especially those from the horrors of the fire and massacre of Smyrna in 1922, discovered life in the twilight areas of Piraeus was not the haven of peace and comfort for which they had hoped. It is by no means certain that the bold opening paragraph, which apparently gives the horrifying conclusion of the novella, is the one the reader will want to accept. Hope after all is an abiding human quality. Throughout this gripping tale of fear, courage, infatuation, love, evil and historical fact the reader will be drawn to the protagonist willing him to crush the ruthless compatriot who rules over the patch. This is also a story of music, of the bouzouki and of the more primitive instruments which the refugees turned to, some in desperation crafting their music in hashish dens, until our hero Dionysos meets Aleko who in turn introduces him to the owner of Papazoglou’s swish taverna. Here it is the eyes of Seraphina which will change the course of life for Dionysos. This book may get under your skin, so incredibly well woven is this tale you will feel for the pain of the author who had to so meticulously research this story. Bravo!
5***** A gripping and poignant tale
24 December 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dionysos, a young man who escapes from Smyrna (İzmir), after the Turks end the Greek occupation, arrives in Greece with the rest of Asia Minor refugees. The refugees are outcasts, living in a separate quarter on the fringes of Piraeus. Many perish under the poverty, famine and unsanitary conditions of the quarter while Dionysos finds consolation in hashish and spends a couple years in a daze. Aleko, a famous bouzouki player becomes his saviour and pulls him out of the gutter, giving him a purpose in his life. This is when he meets the beautiful Seraphina, the singer with the voice of a nightingale, his nemesis. Aleko has a secret, which unfolds as he teaches Dioynsus how to play the bouzouki and treats him like his own son. Despite the warnings and threats from the taverna owner, Papazoglou, a mobster who owns Seraphina, like king Oedipus, Dionysos is blinded by love and passion and does not heed the danger. In his early thirties, as he becomes a famous bouzouki player and composer, fame and fortune promise to make him respectable again. Yet, fate continues to weave its threats around the young couple.
Good story-telling combined with descriptions that set the atmosphere of the time, from the hellish conditions of the refugee quarter to the lavishness of the taverna patrons, and the mobsters that thrive in drug-dealing, crime, and corruption. The refugee culture that influences the local culture with its music, cuisine, language and traditions make this a gripping, yet poignant tale.
5***** The Passion That Ignited Greek History!
Dionysos Mavroulis is a man hitting rock bottom. Escaping Smyrna after the Turkish occupation, Dionysos consoles himself in the hashish parlors of Piraeus, spending every small bit of money so he can dream his life away. However, his life undergoes a more than dramatic way when he sees a picture of Seraphina, a singer who accompanies Aleko, a famous bouzouki player. It’s 1923 and this form of Greek music is just beginning to become popular with its soulful sound and tone reflective of the Greek soul that has loved and suffered so deeply.
Seraphina is described as a gorgeous woman and Dionysos loses his mind, heart and soul after hearing her sing. Truly she has the voice of a nightingale and Dionysos is so lost in that glorious being that he dances with her in a way that touches everyone watching and listening to this unexpected but glorious performance.
A love story begins but journeys where no one expects it to end. For Seraphina is controlled by the tavern owner who is a Mafia-style figure. Aleko knows the power and violence of Papazoglou, warning Dionysos to back off his passion for Seraphina.
Love is blind, however, and events quickly transpire leading to a devastating but passionate ending. The beauty of this novel lies in the exquisite descriptions of the music produced with a bouzouki, the enchantment that binds Seraphina and Dionysos, the dances that give expression to life and love, and the almost indescribable depth of passion that these Greeks have for their homeland and unique culture. This is a novel you will not soon forget, a story emerging out of a painful period of Greek history, and a story of revival and love that no enemy could stifle. Highly recommended!
Pamela Rogers 5*****
Seraphina’s song is an excellent quick read which will linger in my heart and mind. Like Gauci’s first fabulous novel “The Embroiderer” the background of the protagonists starts during the diabolical Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations of 1923 and continues. Fascinating in its exploration of the soulful music that blossomed during this extreme time, and the people who created it. Highly recommended!
Barbara Denvil 5*****
This delightfully romantic novella brings us a whole lot more, with considerable depth and insight into the historic devastation of Greece in the early 1920s, when poverty and discrimination brought unbearable hardship in most areas.
Without swamping us with any unwanted history lesson, we are introduced to these fascinating characters and their shared background, seeing how they coped – and sometimes how they did not cope.
The fascinating insights into the hearts and minds of the Greek refugees escaping from Asia Minor at this time, are both heart-rending and intriguing, and bring the whole book to life.
Especially vivid are the descriptions of the music and how much this mattered to the people, as a llink to their pasts and their memories.
The romance is the essence of this story, and that is beautifully presented.
Not only very well written and full of atmosphere, this novella stays with you after the last page.