A family’s life and loves play out amidst the political turmoil of the military coup (aka “The Regime of the Colonels”) in Greece in 1967.
Sophie and Nick are a young couple—unmarried and politically committed—when the military takes over Greece in April 1967. Chaos is the order of the day, as protestors are tear-gassed or picked up for interrogation and torture by the police. Sophie lives with Eleni, her widowed mother; Mihalis, a beloved uncle intermittently estranged from his wife; Anna, her younger sister; and Taki, her brother. Eleni is a physician, now called upon to heal those injured in street confrontations, and Mihalis, a poet, is sympathetic to the demonstrators, in part because of his past involvement in the Greek resistance against the Nazis. Eventually, the political situation becomes too volatile for Sophie, so she emigrates to Paris, becoming a student and working on her doctorate on the works of the Greek poet George Seferis (whose 1971 funeral Bakopoulos memorably depicts). Taki is likewise disgusted with the oppressive regime, so he emigrates to the United States, making a home in Michigan. Anna stays in Athens but begins a torrid affair with a married university professor. Although Anna becomes more preoccupied with her personal situation than with the politics of the time, Sophie—who in Paris takes up with Loukas, a cousin of her former boyfriend—follows Greek politics closely and, after six years, returns home, pregnant and ready to begin a new life.
Because Bakopoulos has meticulously researched the period, Athens effectively becomes a character as real as the family she lovingly delineates, and her street scenes disclose the scorching reality of persecution and maltreatment in this sordid time.