Monday 16 April 2018

Evanthia's Gift by Effie Kammenou BlogTour Review @EffieKammenou @LoveBooksGroup #TheGiftSaga

This Greek American family saga follows a multigenerational story of love, loyalty, and culture. An emotional novel about family bonds and the difficult pull between home and heritage. In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets - ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family. The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for. EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.

Evanthia's Gift by Effie Kammenou is the first book in The Gift Saga and was published in August 2015. I'm happy to be hosting the Blog Tour today, organised by Love Books Group.

I'd been aware of this series for some time as I'm a huge fan of all things Greece, even the cover conjures up wonderful memories of holiday spent on sunny Greek islands. I jumped at the chance to take part in the Blog Tour for Evanthia's Gift, and have spent a happy few days immersed in the story.

This is a huge, multi-layered, multi-generational story that follows Anastacia (known as Ana) from her early years as a Greek immigrant in New York in the 1950s, right through to Evanthia (Ana's granddaughter) story.

What I loved most about this story was the Greek influence; and whilst the majority of the story is set in the US, the whole Greek family thing shines through, and I really recognise that from my time in Greece and spending time with my Greek friends. Family is everything in this culture, and whilst sometimes it can feel a little overpowering for family members, everything usually revolves around food!  The addition of recipes throughout the story is welcome and quite wonderful, I recognised many of my favourites amongst them.

This is a vast story, and I'll admit that I thought that it was a little too long, there were times at the beginning where I felt that there was a little too much description. Overly long passages that didn't really add a lot to the story, and then later, there are lots of skipped years.  However, the author writes well, with authenticity and warmth and despite some of my minor criticism, I did enjoy the story very much. 

I have the next in the saga on my shelf waiting to be read, and I'm looking forward to it.

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she'd thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women. 

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga is Kammenou’s latest release.

Follow her on Twitter @EffieKammenou

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