A peripatetic 30-something Englishwoman’s account of how a Greek island “got under [her] skin” and showed her the way to contented self-direction.
When Barclay (The Traveller's Friend: A Miscellany of Wit and Wisdom, 2011, etc.) was studying ancient Greek at Hulme Grammar School for Girls, she never imagined that Greece would eventually become her personal North Star. All through her adolescence, she returned to it during her holidays, and after she graduated from college unclear about what to do next, she went to Greece to teach English and “have the adventures that life should be about.” Work eventually took her to Canada, where she married, divorced, and spent more than five years living and traveling around the world with a man she believed was “the one.” The relationship ended with her realizing that she wanted a child and that time was running out for her to have one. Barclay once again turned her attention to Greece, hoping that this time it could be “a good cure for love.” So she went to the tiny island of Tilos, where she became the unwitting romantic interest of another suitor. Barclay returned home to England and began dating once more, only to be disappointed yet again. She found solace in the arms of a friend, Matt, who unexpectedly became her lover and, later, fiance. Together, the two planned to return to Tilos to live and eventually raise a family, but the fairy tale came to an abrupt end when Barclay discovered that Matt had lied about almost everything, from his job to his ability to have children. Yet Barclay remained unfazed by romantic disappointment. In the end, she realized that “it was always meant to be all about [her] and Tilos,” not about the fragile romantic relationships that too often undermined her hopes and dreams.
Light and lively reading with an understated edge.