I have been fortunate to be given a copy of this book by the author through Love Books Group in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga – Women’s fiction/ contemporary romance – Women’s fiction 2106 Reader’s Favorite Award finalist – Available in print, kindle and audible
Anastacia Fotopoulos has moved to the USA after the horrors of the second world war in order to educate herself and so take a step closer to fulfilling her dreams. She hadn’t anticipated falling in love and marrying the first handsome man to come her way, nor less to then be cruelly betrayed by those closest to her. It is 1956 and she finds herself alone, pregnant and ashamed to return home to Greece. She is fortunate in the support of her wonderful friends Stavros and Soula, also first generation Greek immigrants, and her Uncle who gives her employment to keep a roof over her and her new baby daughter’s heads. The last thing that she expects is to attract the attentions of another young Greek man from her student days, and when her friends try to match make her with Alex she is determined to resist. She will never put her future in the hands of a man again.
Ana has no idea that Alexandros Giannakos has loved her since he first knew her, and he wins her over with his perseverance and love for both her and daughter Sophia. Their friends have had two children, Dean and Demi, and life for the close Greek American families is good. But secrets have been kept, with the best of intentions by all involved, and these will affect life in the future. The storyline skips forward to the teenage years of the children, and whilst the girls are closer than sisters, a deeper relationship develops between Dean and Sophia. Their Greek heritage remains extremely important to the families, particularly the older generation, and teen Dean cannot bear to have his life mapped out by his parents – he wants to be an American boy who goes to college and finds his own way in the world. As a result, he refuses to acknowledge his feelings openly for Sophia and as he pulls away from the family traditions, Sophia too has her young heart broken.
Life continues for the families. Dean marries a college girl and goes to work for his father in law, Demi marries her secret childhood sweetheart and Sophia throws herself into her career as a dancer. Along the way family secrets emerge that threaten to splinter relationships, and the rock the families to the core.
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If you enjoy family dramas that span generations, without sugar coating life, then you will love this novel. The historical element of life in war torn Greece was fascinating, as was the story that was so common to many immigrant New York families be they Greek, Italian, Irish….the author is herself a second generation Greek American, and she appears to have exactly the right understanding between the need for embracing their heritage and culture for the older family members, to the desire to be American youngsters and growing up in America for the youngsters. The friction was palpable in the writing.
The characters all grow and develop throughout the course of the novel as life throws both expected and unexpected joys and sorrows at them. Ana remains at the core of the story, and I love the way in which both she and Soula are presented as the strong women keeping the wheels of their family life oiled and turning. The secret to this is food! I recognised in this book one of my own close friends, who moved to London from Athens in the 1980s, and is the most amazing homemaker and cook. My kids love to go to her house and she feeds us all in a very similar way to Ana and Soula in the story. The descriptions of the food are enough to make the reader’s mouth water, but then the author will offer up a wonderful gem every few chapters with a complete Greek recipe. Imagine my delight when I also found that the author has a recipe website! I am so excited to try cooking some of these mouth-watering delicacies!
Evanthia’s Gift is a love story that covers generations, continents, different loves lost and found – but it is so much more than a love story, it is a story of human life and emotions over a fifty-year period. I wanted to shout at the characters when the miscommunication caused problems and altered the course of lives and changed choices made. I cheered when decisions ended well, and I shouted and cried at the bad decisions and the sorrows that life dishes up. This book depicts real life – not everything can be planned, not everything is sugar coated and joy is tempered with sadness. If you haven’t guessed I loved this book and am really looking forward to the next one in the series….and yes, you will find out who Evanthia is and just what her gift is.
Five Stars from me!
About the Author (from Goodreads)
Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.
Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.
Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga is Kammenou’s latest release.
Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.
As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.
Member of Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association & Romance Writers of America
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