It's 1972, and Eleni is summoned to her dying aunt's bedside in Athens. Her aunt wants to come clean about Eleni's family history and recounts a shocking life, full of secrets, loss, war, betrayal, death, love and espionage.
The tale takes us as far back as 1822, during the The Greek War of Independence, and essentially follows one particular family and their efforts to survive the conflicts, keep their business going and stay alive in turbulent times.
My understanding of these conflicts is not as comprehensive as it should be, and reading The Embroiderer was a great way to learn about the battles, invasions and wars in Greece from the Greek War of Independence (1821-1832) through to the Balkan Wars (1912-1913).
Readers who enjoy reading historical fiction based around real historical conflicts will enjoy reading The Embroiderer, and will definitely learn more about Greece (and WWI) in the process.
The contents of a senior family member's journal at the end of the novel took the number of characters I could follow just a little too far, and I longed for a briefer method of learning what lay in her journal. I also wished for more time to linger on the details of the family business of embroidery and couture fashion during the period, my main attraction for this novel.
Having said that, if you have an interest in Greece, or are of Greek lineage yourself, you are bound to fall in love with The Embroiderer.
In conclusion, here's an excerpt from the blurb that sums up the novel really well: Set against the mosques and minarets of Asia Minor and the ruins of ancient Athens, The Embroiderer is a gripping saga of love and loss, hope and despair, and of the extraordinary courage of women in the face of adversity.
My rating = ***1/2
About the Author
Kathryn Gauci was born in England, and studied textile design, carpet design and technology. After graduation, Kathryn spent a year in Vienna before working as a carpet designer in Athens for six years.
Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio in Melbourne for over fifteen years and The Embroiderer is her first novel; a culmination of her love of design and travel, and her years living and working in Greece – a place she is proud to call her spiritual home.