Charmed by the little stone house in north-west Greece that he inherited in 1999, British academic Dimitrios Konstadakopulos has gradually learned about life in Tsamantás – his late mother’s village – during visits over the past twenty years.
Thirty miles east of Corfu, and once a lively place, peopled by shepherds and tinkers, strong women and boisterous children, the village is now in decline. But this book – part fiction, part fact – brings it vividly to life.
The little house is the focus of the story, as the author’s ancestors and their neighbours experience family life and death, marriages and births, against a background of the faith and festivities that gave their existence meaning and brought them escape from drudgery and poverty.
The region’s history is explored, from subjugation under the Ottomans to integration with Greece, and – in the context of a futile war with Turkey – the unresolved disappearance of Great-Uncle George is given a possible explanation.
These powerfully moving stories of love and loss, ritual and superstition, landscape and colourful culture, are a tribute to a way of life that is disappearing, and may soon be consigned to history.
Dimitrios Konstadakopulos, PhD, University of Surrey, is a retired scholar living in Bristol, UK. He has authored or co-authored three books and some 60 articles, papers and book chapters in a wide range of academic topics. The semi-autobiographical novel “The House by the Fig Tree” is his first fiction.