ANGELIKA Lambrakis knows only the sketchiest details of her heritage.
Raised as an only child in London, she has no memory of her father and has never met either set of grandparents. Single mother Poppy has rebuffed every attempt by her daughter to revisit the past – a past from which Calliope, as Poppy was then known, chose to escape 40 years earlier.
All Angie can be sure of is that her background is Greek.
Now, with her wedding day looming, she makes up her mind to defy Poppy’s wishes and search for information among the whitewashed villages of southern Crete.
Far from being welcomed, however, Angie immediately runs into a roadblock of unexplained, blatant hostility. Complete strangers flinch at the mention of Poppy’s maiden name, Kondulakis, and those along the way who appear to have some form of connection to the family are unnervingly evasive.
Angie’s confidence is shaken. Will yiayá and papu be pleased to meet their granddaughter at last, or will this elderly couple be every bit as standoffish as their fellow islanders seem to be?
She remains committed, however. Having flown halfway across Europe to find the missing pieces of her personal jigsaw puzzle, Angie is determined to continue probing until she succeeds in reuniting Poppy with her Cretan relatives.
Crete – particularly the area due west of Ierapetra – was the setting for some of the most brutal, bitter fighting of World War II in which Germans, Allies and resistance partisans hunted each other across spectacularly rugged hillsides and plateaux throughout the early 1940s.
Using as her setting Amiras and Viannos, traditional communities overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, author Patricia Wilson retraces the circumstances and consequences of a real-life Nazi atrocity through the eyes of the fictitious Lambrakis and Kondulakis families and their neighbours in a remote, mountainous corner of Europe’s southernmost region.