Tom Stone went to Greece one summer to write a novel -- and stayed twenty-two years. On Patmos, the tiny island where St. John received the apocalyptic visions recorded in the Book of Revelations, he fell in love with Danielle, a beautiful French painter. His novel completed and sold, he decided to stay a little longer.
Seven idyllic years later, after the birth of their second child, they left Patmos for Crete, where Stone taught English to civil servants and Danielle painted icons for tourists. But Stone's heart was still on Patmos, and when a Patmian friend, Theológos, called and offered him a summer partnership in his beach tavérna, The Beautiful Helen, Stone jumped at the chance -- much to the dismay of his wife, who cautioned him not to forget the old adage about Greeks bearing gifts.
Back on Patmos, Stone quickly discovered that he was no longer a friend or a patron but a competitor. He learned hard lessons about the Greeks' skill at bargaining, and about how truly effective the curse of the Evil Eye can be. There was no longer time to leisurely sip Greek coffee in the morning or linger over oregano-scented lunches with friends. The tavérna closed for the tourists at 3 A.M. and opened for the fishermen at 7; work sometimes seemed little more than a battle to stay awake. Spurring him on were the enormous profits that Theológos had assured him would materialize in August. And there were still the many joys of being back in Patmos: the beauty of the island, the friendships he had made over the years, and the adrenaline rush of success as news began to spread about Stone's cooking; yachts sailed over from Mykonos for dinner. But then came August, and the realization that Theológos had been cheating him out of thousands of dollars. His illusions shattered, Stone turned to his wife and children, who had been there all the time, offering their support. And their love.
Featuring Stone's recipes, including his variation on the traditional Greek tzatzíki, his own Chicken Retsina, and the ultimate moussaka, The Summer of My Greek Tavérna is as much a love story as it is the grand, humorous, and sometimes bittersweet adventure of an American pursuing his dreams in a foreign land, a modern-day innocent abroad.
Stone moved to Greece more than 20 years ago to work on a novel and, upon its completion, found himself unable to leave the beautiful country. In this memoir, he colorfully recollects his life there, particularly one summer when he runs a restaurant on the island of Patmos. The reading complete with appropriate translations of some Greek phrases and expressions adequately conveys the experiences of an American who thinks of himself as a native but is still an outsider, as he learns when a "friend" cheats him out of a substantial sum of money. Part autobiography and part travelogue, this audiobook should appeal to listeners who've spent time in Greece; Stone's descriptions of the landscape and the people will be recognizable to those already familiar with the country. The author's humility in accepting some of the more difficult aspects of his stay the financial struggles and the physical labor, among them seems genuine. However, perhaps because of the length, this audio grows somewhat tiresome. Listeners may grow weary of Stone's observations about tourists (after all, he was once one) and his deprecating comments about the Greek people; James's reading of these sentiments is at times smug. Simultaneous release with the Simon & Schuster hardcover (Forecasts, June 3).