In the beginning of this remarkable read we are introduced to Nefeli, the owner of The Blue Dolphin tavern and widow of Yianni who died in battle during WW2, and her daughter Georgia. Their close, loving relationship is sustained throughout the entire story through the village matchmakers going to work on Nefeli and eventually finding her a husband that is okay with Nefeli. Only okay for she doubts that the love she knew with Yianni will ever be matched. As talk of finding her a husband drops to the background, the Greek island comes to life with a friendly fisherman, Socrates, bringing Nefeli fish to serve her customers, Agamemnon the mule offers endless help when most needed, Germans occupiers show up at the tavern (some unfriendly, others not), and andartes visit the tavern and Nefeli helps them store weapons in her deceased husband’s boat stored in a locked cave. Scenes move along until a violent storm besieges the island ripping buildings apart, so severe Nefeli has to bring her animals (large and small) into her two room home to keep them safe. During the storm a German pilot washes ashore in a life boat. When Nefeli fines him half dead her character runs deep with compassion. It is here in this union that a crescendo of all the aforementioned happenings come together in a poignantly beautiful way, where enemies see beyond the fearful façade into each other’s hearts. Where this story shines is in the relationships. To begin with mother and daughter. And then Nefeli and the German pilot. Circling around these main relationships are other significant tensions building ones: the man chosen to marry Nefeli and his domineering mother, the interfering matchmakers, the village collective, and a Greek man who helped translate for the Germans. The interplay between the individuals is beautifully written, as good as the best of classic Greek tragedies, as scenes unfold and dialogue resonates authentically. Passion burns from the pages and I couldn’t put this incredible read down. Finally when the last page is hit, the surprising ending left me half breathless as I continue on to read a little of this history. It is in these last pages my respect for this talented author draws me in further as I reflect on the dept of research she has put into her work: impeccable in detail and responsible to the portrayal of facts. Thankfully, there are a few pages left when I venture to the ending—another story by Gauci. It’s a relief I get to encounter more from this wonderful author. Highly recommend.
Marina Osipova‘s review
Jun 12, 2021
Read 2 times. Last read June 12, 2021.
Enchanting from the beginning
This meticulously researched novel brings readers to Greece under German occupation in 1944 and then the following years.
Kathryn Gauci is a storyteller who possesses a phenomenal ability to make her readers fall in love with her characters, equally real and rounded, whether sympathetic or abominable. In this story, I rooted the most for Nefeli and Martin.
In the words of the main character, Nefeli, about love, “It was like a tidal wave – unstoppable,” and such is this story. It started with calm nostalgia, inevitably growing into a narrative that wouldn’t let you stop reading, swelling in its intensity, and finally crushing upon you with such merciless power, I had to take a breath to digest the scene before moving on to the last part of the tale. It was sad to part ways with the characters.
The story line is easy to follow. The language fluent and rich. This is historical fiction with a touch of romance and a female character to respect and adore. For this reader, The Blue Dolphin was a page-turner. Highly recommended.
Reviewed in the United States on June 12, 2021
Another wonderful read by one of my favorite authors. The Blue Dolphin is a tragic story of love and heartbreak on a beautiful Greek Isle during WWII. The author, as always, brings her characters and the location to life. The book shows how one simple act of kindness to one’s enemy can change your life and the lives of others. I loved Nefeli and her daughter Georgia’s special bond through all the adversities they face. If you enjoy history, travel and romance you will love this book but do not look for a “happy ever after ending”. The USA Today review comparing this book to a Kazantzakis novel ensured the writer had a lot to live up to as he is my favorite author. Once again Gauci does not disappoint. Bravo