The House of Dust and Dreams
Evadne Timberlake first sees her husband Hugh’s dilapidated family house in the Cretan village of Panagia Sta Perivola in the summer of 1936, and persuades him to let her stay to oversee its renovation once he returns from his diplomatic duties in Athens. The locals cannot quite pronounce her name, so she becomes known as “Heavenly”. As she adapts to the local way of life, Evadne finds a new identity and a new self, along with the new name – away from the trivial social whirl of life on the diplomatic circuit. She befriends a young village woman, Anthi, whose voice provides an alternative narrative, and then there is Cristo, a would-be student of architecture employed as a mason on the renovation project.
It is predictable that Evadne and Cristo should fall in love, but this is more than just a love story – it is a complex novel of friendship, motherhood, marriage and conflict, both personal and political. Her characters, particularly Anthi, are well drawn, and Evadne’s transformation from naïve, well-meaning visitor to a true island woman is believable.
The author clearly has a great affection for Crete herself and writes vividly of village life in all its harshness. Neither does she shy away from brutal realities when war finally comes to the island and the Cretans take a stand against the German and Italian invaders.