THE ORCHARDS OF ITHACA by Harry Mark Petrakis


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A neighborhood mosaic by the prolific Chicago novelist (Ghost of the Sun, 1990, etc.).

Petrakis’s tenth novel re-creates the atmosphere of the Windy City’s Greek Town through the eyes of local restaurateur and family man Orestes Panos. Orestes has seen a lot of change in his day. Just 50, he has lived all his life in Greek Town, where he runs a restaurant, the Olympia, that serves as a kind of townsquare for the locals who invariably pass through at some point each day. There’s the journalist Ted Banapoulos, Karvelas the undertaker; Orestes’s physician Dr. Savas; his parish priest Fr. Anton, and the nouveau riche meatpacker Sam Tzangaris. Happily married for 23 years, Orestes loves his wife Dessie but is beginning to chafe under the constraints of domestic life. For one thing, his odious mother-in-law Stavroula has recently moved in; for another, his teenaged daughter Marika is bleeding him dry with her shopping sprees. Orestes’s son Paulie is thinking of walking out of the shotgun marriage that his young wife’s family pushed him into the year before, and Paulie’s doubts are giving Orestes ideas of his own. When he meets Sarah Fleming, a young artist who lived in Crete for a while and shares Orestes’s passion for Kazantzakis, Orestes is at first intrigued, then smitten, and finally obsessed. Is this a belated case of the seven-year itch? Whatever it is, it soon takes on a life of its own and infects Orestes with massive pangs of guilt. Too bad he doesn’t know that Dessie has a few secrets of her own. And, in the meantime, Orestes has to find a way of clearing Fr. Anton of the false charges of pedophilia brought against him by the odious Sam Tzangaris. Just another day in the neighborhood.

A pleasant digression through the back streets, though served up with a bit more nostalgia than may be good for you.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 2004
ISBN: 0-8093-2578-0
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Southern Illinois Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2004