Book Release for North of Ithaka by Eleni Gage
Title: North of Ithaka: A Journey Home Through a Family's Extraordinary Past
Author: Eleni Gage
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date of Publication: May 2005 (Hardcover)
Description: hardcover, 304pp, bxw photos
Availability: Major distributors, bookstores, online book vendors
From the Publisher
Leaving behind a sparkling social life and a successful journalism career, Eleni Gage moved from New York City to the remote Greek village of Lia. Lia is the same village where her father was born and her grandmother murdered, and which her father, Nicholas Gage, made famous twenty years ago with his international bestseller Eleni.
Her four aunts (the diminutive but formidable thitsas) warned Eleni that she'd get killed by Albanians and eaten by wolves if she moved to Lia, invoking the curse her grandmother placed on any of her descendants who returned to Greece. But Eleni was determined to rebuild the ruins of her grandparents' house and to come to terms with her family's tragic history. Along the way, she learned to dodge bad omens and to battle the scorpions on her pillow and the shadows in her heart. She also came to understand that Greece and its memories were not only dark and death-filled, and that memories of the dead can bring new life to the present.
Part travel memoir and part family saga, North of Ithaka is, above all, a journey home.
Quotes and Reviews Cited by the Publisher
A brilliant story at its heart ...an interesting saga of immigration, belonging, and community."
---The Observer (UK)
"Imbued with forgiveness, with the rebuilding of lives and houses, and moving on from tragedy...In coming full circle [Gage] has helped soothe the pain of a traumatized family."
---The Times Literary Supplement
"Through this moving family memoir, Gage allows us to be present at her rite of passage across that 'psychic barrier' from American to Greek, at the exorcism of a tragic past, and at the blessing of her reborn family house."
---The Sunday Times (UK)
"Part personal memoir, do-it-yourself-manual, historical novel, family saga, and tourist guide, North of Ithaka tells of Gage's attempt to put her cultural confusion to rest by exchanging the skyscrapers of New York for the mountaintops of her ancestral village."
---The List (Scotland)
Quotes and Reviews Cited by Barnes and Noble (barnesandnoble.com)
Shy, stilted debut by Eleni author Nicolas Gage's daughter, who recounts her efforts in her mid-20s to rebuild the haunted family homestead in Greece. People magazine beauty editor Gage was living the Greek-American dream in Manhattan when she decided to take up the gauntlet flung by her four thitsas (aunts) and return to the village of Lia, located on a mountain in the remote, impoverished province of Epiros. "There is hate in that village," declared Thitsa Kanta, a long-time exile in Massachusetts who had nothing but bitter memories of the Greek/Albanian border town racked by a brutal succession of invaders during and after WWII. During the civil war of the late 1940s, Grandmother Eleni helped her entire family escape the Greek communist guerrillas who occupied the village; they joined her husband in America, but she herself was held back, arrested, tortured and executed. After 50 years of disuse, her house was decrepit and filled with evil memories. Nonetheless, young Eleni returned to supervise its reconstruction based on her father's redesign. She was fluent enough in Greek to do business with the construction crew and make friends with neighbors, friends and sister churchgoers (she observed all the religious festivals). Most of her friends were elderly; they either burst into tears at her resemblance to her grandmother, or wondered why she wasn't married. Her narrative is a curiously lackadaisical mixture of American earnestness and superficiality. She declares that she learned firsthand the importance of omens to Greeks, for example, from the discovery before her departure of ovarian cysts, which she monitored throughout her trip. When she finally forced herself to read her father's unsettling account of her grandmother's ordeal, she had to escape the scary parts by flipping through a Greek Vogue. A pleasant journey hardly rendered urgent by measured, unemphatic and unspectacular prose.
About the Author
ELENI N. GAGE is the child of a Greek-born father and an American mother, and has traveled between those two cultures her whole life. When she was almost three, her family moved to Athens, Greece. After five years there, they settled in Massachusetts, where Eleni lived until she graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Folklore and Mythology, specializing in Modern Greek Folklore.
Now a freelance writer and the beauty editor of People magazine, Eleni has had articles appear in InStyle, Travel+Leisure, Elle, The New York Times, Parade, Real Simple, American Scholar, and many other publications. She divides her time between a tiny high-rise apartment in New York City and a tiny mountaintop house in the village of Lia, Greece.
(Posting date 27 April 2006)
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