The Gift Saga
by Effie Kammenou
Published Aug 7, 2015
Saga | 559 pages | Women’s Fiction -Multigenerational – Contemporary -Romance
by Effie Kammenou
(adapted from goodreads)
In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets – ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.
The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean,
who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.
EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.
“I was provided with a free copy of this book by Reading Deals so I could give an honest review.”
I was so delighted to have the chance to read Mrs Kammenou story, Evanthia’s gift. It’s a first for me, to read a story about greek families who lived abroad, but also a first to read a story written by an American-Greek author I never had the honor to review before. Something that intriqued my curiosity reading the synopsis was the timeline of the story, a period that kept fifty years, almost three generations, and it was the most difficult period for everyone after the World War II. Then, there was the limited clues about what was happening during all these years between the two families and the lives of their member. Evanthia’s gift was a storytell which never failed to inspire me with its quotes about the values of life.
“Friends are as companions of a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happy life. ~Pythagoras
The first part of the book is Anastacia’s Fotopoulos journey, starting in 1955. Her journey begins with a mixture of circumstances and tangled feelings. After the horrible discovery about the unfaithful husband of hers and the fact that she was pregnant with his child, Anastacia not only had to finish college and find a job, but also had to inform her parents about her divorse. With the huge help and support of her dear friends Soula and Stavros, Anna tries to hold herself up for the sake of her unborn child and the new life they would have together.
Even from the beginning, the story introduced the way many Greeks adopted, while they lived adroad. It was common sense, to live close with other family members or even other Greeks, giving the stubility and feel of safety everyone needed to have. Anastacia lived in the same building with her uncle Tassos and her best friend Soula, people that loved her very much and were there to help and support her, since she flew to NY for her collage studies. What is impressive is, the fact, that even far away from home, these families were very close with the manners and customs of Greek traditions and the Orthodox festivities. It was their way to remember where they came from and what was the history their families created back to Greece, years ago.
“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” ~Aristotle
Life has fate to complete people futures. I would include, and a very good friend to push you out of your misery, into the arms of…your fate. Anna, after the birth of her daughter Sophia, took the decision not to involve again with an other man in her life, content with the life she had. Having a job to earn for her living and Sophia to play with Soulas kids, Konstantinos and Demetra, her life started to be full again. However, her friends Soula and her husband Stavros had other plans for her. Their love and compassion for their friend was undeniable and unlimited and, they both believed that Anna deserved a second chance in love. Her chance didn’t take long to happen and, Anna with Alexandros, after they first met at college, finally came more intimate close with the help of her friends.
” I love you, I need you….My heart aches for you. You are all I think about, and I don’t want to spent another day without you.” ~ Alexandros Giannakos
The first part, the part of Anastacia’s life, is one, beautifully narrated, gripping story. The references about Greek tragic years through Alexandros and Anna’s memories, the memorable greek-american events they all enjoyed on special occasions and the priceless second chance both Anna and Alex blessed to have, are few of what a reader is going to view and enjoy inside. Greek temperament flows openly and it’s a sight to watch the heroes interact with each other. We Greeks are people, passionate with life and freedom, also, we have a good heart inside us, things no one succeeded to steal from us. What was breathtaking over all, is the unconditional love Anna and Alex have for each other and how affecting showed their love, even when circumstances where tough to handle. They were absolutely the luckiest, happiest couple, truly made for each other…
“You need to remember the good, not just the difficult. You will gain wisdom from quiet reflection in a place of serenity” ~ Spyros Fotopoulos
Second part of Evanthia’s gift continues with Sophia’s, Konstantino’s and Demetra’s lives, not seperated from their parents lives though. Mrs Kammenou, just like the first part, continues to addresses all the heroes of the book and calls upon them to speak there thoughts. That’s the magic of this story! The reader gets to know everyone involved and have the in sight each situation took place. Sophia’s part is longer than Anna’s. My thoughts are that, except the journey Sophia has to live through the years for herself, there is the journey everyone else’s compined with hers, that’s why looks longer her part. However, it was pleasant to read and never missed a bit of it’s magic.
“We don’t choose to open up about what’s bothering us. …But whatever this is, you must confront it and, I promise you, will come out stronger.” ~Anna Fotopoulos
Sophia, as a sixteen years old teenager, had her crush. Konstantinos was like a big brother, a dear friend, just like Demetra felt like a real sister for her. However, fate had other plans for the two of them and love showed its face. It was deep, unconditional and strong! The type of love her dear parents had and she was blessed to find it in the heart of Konstantinos. But they were young, and their decision to keep their relationship a secret wasn’t taken with maturity. After a heartbroken break out, both Anna and Konstantinos continued with their lives, accepted the fact that, even if they had something strong together it was never meant to be for them. A majorly sweet, innocent teenage love, became a life lesson for these two beautiful, kind souls, who had to grown up faster and take their lives more seriously and achieve their goals. The following years, they both took selfish decision, which stealed their hearts but, in the end all these unfortunate circumstances they lived, brought them closer. What is more exciting than a second chance in love?
“My soul recognize your soul. I honor the love, light, beauty, truth and kindness within you because it is also within me. …We are the same. We are one.” ~Unknown author
I could write my thoughts for hours about this book, just like I talked unstoppable about it with my friends. It isn’t the circumstances everyone in the story had to deal or the lives they decided to have or the love they cherished, it is the way they handled everything that crossed with their lives. None is same with the other, none view and understand things as the other, but Giannakos and Papadakis families having the same values and morals, made the best of it and raised their children with dignity. Never forget the inheritance their own parents left them, back to Greece, the two families kept the traditions alive and transfered them to their childrens untouched by the decades. Touching, captivating story with sensational chatacters, Evanthia’s gift is a must read book for everyone. Mrs Kammenou fluent writing style kept my interest bright until the end and made me want more, even after this long length reading. The love for her heroes is tangible and leaps off the pages, something that made me fell head over heels for them and love both families the same.
“You see this ring? Your papou gave it to me, but it belongs to his mother, Evanthia. …It represents strenght and resilience. Most of all, represents everlasting love, and that can never be broken…” ~Anastacia Fotopoulos
I will leave you with that. It has an unspoken meaning into it, many of you can clearly understand it. The family tree can’t be complited through generations, only by keeping the traditions alive. The inheritance isn’t only the history the old families have to remember from the oldest members but it’s also, the priceless pieces that survived through the ages. A romantic gesture into the story that secretly has so much meaning inside..
I recomment all of you, to grab this beautiful book, find out what unique story it is and savor the Greek delicious recipes are included inside. Maybe then you will understand a little bit more who are we and how we see the world around us. Thank you Mrs Effi Kammenou for the chance to read one of your books.
Book rates: 5 stars
- Plot:5 stars
- Characters: 5 stars
- Writing:5 stars
- Pacing: 5 stars
- Cover: 5+ stars