IN HER MASTERFUL DEBUT NOVEL, The Green Shore, award-winning writer NatalieBakopoulos vividly illuminates a seminal yet little-explored moment in Greek history: the 1967 military coup d’état, which ushered in a seven-year period of devastating brutality and repression.
Through lyrical prose of wisdom and sophistication, we follow the adventures of one family, whose stories of love and resistance play out against the backdrop of this turbulent period. Eleni, a widowed doctor, struggles with her lost sense of passion, both personal and political, in the face of this latest challenge to democracy. Her brother, Mihalis, an eccentric poet of some renown, finds himself keeping a low profile as he attempts to reconcile with his estranged wife. Eleni’s daughter Sophie, a student of French literature, gets swept up in the resistance alongside her privileged, left-leaning boyfriend, while her youngest child, pensive Anna, watches events unfold with increasing anxiety. As the years pass and the dictatorship’s oppressive rule continues unchallenged, their lives unfold in surprising ways, each seeking and finding love and fulfillment as they struggle to make their own peace with when to stay silent and when to act.
Set in Athens and Paris, The Green Shore is an ambitiously told and transporting literary tour de force that delves into a momentous episode in the history of a distant country. The stories of these unforgettable characters sear our hearts and make us understand not only this place, but also what it means to be human, in a new way.
Bakopoulos debuts with a family drama and revolutionary romance set during the Greek military junta of 1967 1974. On the April night that the army stages its coup, 21-year-old Sophie is dancing at her leftist boyfriend Nick's Athens apartment when soldiers barge in and arrest suspected student dissidents. Refusing to break contact with Nick and his fellow activists or abandon the liberal political convictions inherited from her family, Sophie sinks dangerously deeper into antijunta resistance. Meanwhile, her widowed mother, Eleni, faces possible trouble at the hospital where she works when the junta forbids treating torture victims. Eleni's brother, a famous leftist poet who's fought oppression before, has to gauge his response more carefully, since his family is at risk and an opportunity arises to reconnect with his estranged wife. Meanwhile, Sophie's observant younger sister tries to understand the purpose of the struggle. Warm, engaging characters and a richly authentic Greek setting make for an engaging read with commercial appeal. And while some narrative threads are less taut than others, Bakopoulos's juxtaposition of a historic conflict with the joys and trials of motherhood, the heedlessness of youth, and the durability of family ties is poignant and effective.