Monday 3 April 2023

Arrested Song by Irena Karafilly BLOG TOUR #ArrestedSong @IrenaKarafilly @Legend_Times_ #BookReview


Calliope is a young schoolmistress in the village of Molyvos when Hitler’s army invades Greece in 1941. Recruited by the Germans to act as their liaison officer, Calliope’s wartime duties bring her into close contact with Lieutenant Lorenz Umbreit, the Wehrmacht commander. In a fishing village seething with dread and suspicion, their intimacy begins to blossom. But as an active member of the Greek Resistance, how long can their relationship last?

Arrested Song is a sumptuous, sweeping romance, weaving the private and the historic into a vivid tapestry of Greek island life. Spanning over three decades, it chronicles the story of an extraordinary woman and her lifelong struggle against tyranny.

Arrested Song by Irena Karafilly was published on 28 March 2023 by Legend Press. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour 

I really enjoy reading fiction set in Greece, and especially those that look at the small islands during World War Two. I've read some wonderful novels about this subject and Arrested Song is another to add to the collection. It's beautifully written, with a lead character who is strong, yet flawed, and so relatable. 

Beginning in 1941, on the small island of Lesbos, just at the German Army have invaded and occupied the island, the reader meets Calliope. She's a young school teacher whose husband has not returned from the war. Calliope is a forward thinking woman, encouraged by her late father to read and to learn languages, she is soon recruited by the Germans as a translator and liaison officer. 

These are dangerous times for the Greeks and this author has portrayed the tension, suspicion and paranoia that seeps through the villages. Families that have known and lived amongst each other for generations now look at each other with mistrust. Who is a collaborator?  Who is working with the Resistance? Who do we rely on?

What this novel really does is portray the humanity behind those who are pitched against each other. The uniform of a German officer can hide so many things and Calliope discovers that Lieutenant Lorenz Umbreit, the Wehrmacht commander who she is working for, has many sides to his character. 

The story continues after the Germans leave the island, with the violence and tragedy of the Greek Civil War, where once again, family members become enemies and so many lives are lost.

Calliope is a wonderful character. This is her story really, about how a young girl from a small fishing village overcame so much in order to make changes in the world. A force to be reckoned with, Calliope risked everything, many times, in order to ensure that future generations of women in Greece would have more choice, more opportunities and a brighter future. 

A novel steeped in not so distant history, entwined with the themes of social justice and women's rights, this is a stunning read. Highly recommended by me.

Irena Karafilly is an award-winning writer and poet and the author of several acclaimed books as well as numerous stories, poems and articles published in both literary and mainstream magazines and newspapers including the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. 

She was born in Russia, educated in Canada and currently divides her time between Montreal and Athens.

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