Happily ensconced in Boston with her fiance, Jonah, Callie’s only real trouble is her hesitancy about marrying him. That is, until her cousin Aliki phones from Greece to tell her that her beloved Uncle Nestor has died, and the funeral is in two days. So why didn’t her mother tell her sooner?
Power’s debut novel traces Callie’s trip to Greece, where she must not only sort through her uncle’s effects, but also unravel the mystery of her mother’s past. Like her mother, Clio, Callie is named for a muse, and her full name is Calliope Notaris Brown. In shortening her name, she has rejected her Greek heritage. Yet, her mother has rejected her American heritage for her; in fact, for the first weeks of her life in America, Clio papered over the windows of her marital home. Perhaps discovering why her mother kept the news of Nestor’s death from her may, in turn, explain why her mother always hated living in America, why her family lost its livelihood during World War II and why her aunts hold her mother responsible for that loss. Callie arrives in Patras, Greece, just in time for carnival, whose ecstatic abandon leads Callie into toying with a liaison of her own, as she uncovers her mother’s and uncle’s secrets. During the confusing time of the Italian and then German occupation of Greece, every possession could be confiscated, every plan could lead to betrayal, and every love could lead to disaster. Power’s tale fluidly shifts among Callie’s investigation into her family’s past, her search for her own place—is it with Jonah?—and Clio’s wartime experiences. Memories inhabit the present, easily holding a mirror between Callie’s and Clio’s choices in different times, different circumstances.
Well-paced and filled with likable, plausibly flawed characters.