When The Cypress Whispers starts off a bit like a backwards version of Shirley Valentine. Whereas Shirley wanted to escape her humdrum life and find a new beginning on an exotic Greek island, this novel follows bride-to-be Daphne as she embarks on a journey back to her roots, re-embracing her Greek origins and heritage on the tiny island of Erikousa.
Daphne has had a tough life so far. After resettling in New York, her parents are shot dead during a robbery at the restaurant they own and the love of her life, husband Alex, loses his life in a road accident just after the birth of their child, Evie. However, unlike the widows on the island of her childhood, who wear black and sing lamenting songs for the rest of their days, Daphne has moved on, found a new love and is bringing her American husband-to-be back to Erikousa, where they plan to marry.
Interspersed with tales of Daphne reconnecting with her family and Greek culture, we get glimpses of her carefree, happy, childhood summers spent here with her Yia-Yia (grandmother). The beauty of the island, the warmth of the islanders and the simplicity of life here are all evoked with nostalgia and compassion and you can really tell that the author is speaking from the heart. I wasn't surprised to learn that Erikousa is her father's birthplace - prose this evocative and enchanting can only be written from the heart by someone with a real connection to the place.
As a child, Daphne longed to hear the cypress trees whisper the island's secrets to her, as in the tales her Yia-Yia told her. When she returns as an adult and discovers that she can finally hear them, she may not like what they have to say.
It's a poignant, powerful read, looking at life, love and death, new beginnings and goodbyes, with an immensely rich supporting cast of slightly eccentric locals. The sense of community really shines through, making this a heart-warming read that I'd love to see made into a movie. Author Yvette Manessis Corporon is also an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer so who knows ? - it could happen !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £12.99
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Harper (24 April 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062322664
- ISBN-13: 978-0062322661
- Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 14.6 x 3 cm
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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