Friday, August 1, 2014

Finding change and hope among WWII's Olive Groves

I've just added another great book to my to-read list: Among the Olive Groves, by Chrissie Parker. And it's coming out today. The author is touring the blogosphere to celebrate, and I'm delighted to welcome her here. But first, here's some information about the book:

Nineteen year old Elena Petrakis adores living on Zakynthos. When World War Two looms, her way of life is threatened by forces that she can't control.  Left with no choice she becomes Partisan joining the island's resistance to fight for what she believes in; her family, her home, and her freedom.  Decades later, thousands of miles away in the Cornish town of Newquay, a young Kate Fisher prepares to celebrate her twenty-first birthday, but her joy is fleeting when she learns that she is adopted.  Kate abandons Cornwall, her parents and her best friend Fletch, to live in Bristol, but her past continues to haunt her.  Fleeing to Zakynthos, she is forced to acknowledge a life that she has struggled to come to terms with, one that will change her future forever. From the beautiful crystal turquoise seas of the Ionian Islands to the rugged shores of the Cornish coast, 'Among the Olive Groves' is a moving story of love, bravery and sacrifice
With my European background, my love for Cornwall (where we've had many an amazing vacation with our kids), and a still unfulfilled longing to visit the Greek islands, I'm sure you can see why this novel has piqued my interest. And, since Chrissie and I have both Oregon and England in common (two very different places) you can probably see why was interested in learning her view of how changes--both planned and accidental--mold our lives, our self-image, and, maybe,our fiction.

So, over to you Chrissie, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Change, by Chrissie Parker

Throughout our lives we go through numerous changes.  Some of those changes are of our own making, others are forced upon us.

When they are of our own making we feel euphoria and excitement.  We look forward to the new chapter in our life, wondering where it will lead us, and what fulfilling experiences we will gain from it.  When change is forced upon us by an unknown or unexpected entity however it can bring on a host of emotions; panic fear and stress.

Writing Among the Olive Groves was a huge challenge for me, as the entire book is about change and characters searching for their identities.  Elena Petrakis, one of the main characters in the book, lives a quiet and peaceful existence on a beautiful Greek island called Zakynthos.  It is the only home she has ever known, and it is a laid back idyll in the middle of the sea.  The real world seems like a lifetime away and her life is normal and uncomplicated.  Elena see’s wonder in everything, be it the dawning of a new day, the blossoming of flowers or the ripening of olives.  Suddenly world war two hits and her life changes, and she and her family are forced into situations she never dreamed possible.

In the process of writing this book I did a lot of research to try and understand what she would have gone through.  I read books about world war two, the Greek Resistance, and what women in particular went through during the war.  Nothing could have prepared me for what I learned.  I was amazed at how many women joined the resistance, to do their bit and fight against their oppressors.  It was one of the few ways they could.  Many of them put their lives and those of their families on the line, and not all of them survived.

Nowadays we tend, as a society, to take life for granted.  Most of us can do what we want when we want.  We have endless amounts of technology at our fingertips to help us out with everything from instant communication, to buying food, to getting around.  Life is easy, food, on the whole, is plentiful, and most of the time we control change.  In comparison to those who lived during the second world war we have it incredibly easy.

So how would it feel for the world you know to suddenly crumble around you?  For your way of life to completely change.  To lose your identity, be made a prisoner of your own town/village/island. To be put under curfew, to have your food and consumables rationed to the point of almost being non-existent.  To feel desperately hungry all the time.  To fear for your life, and those you love.

I have no idea how I would react, I do not think many people do, but in some small way I would like to think I would be a little like my character Elena.  I would hope that I would find the strength as she did, to fight for myself, to fight for my family and for my beliefs, despite the consequences.

So when we go through life day by day, getting up, going to work, visiting our family popping to the pub with friends, we should remember those people who had their lives completely overturned by change.  We should think of those people who sacrificed their lives and showed incredible bravery so that we can live life the way we do nowadays.  We should also remember that change can happen at any time.  We have to hope that if it does, we will have the freedom to manage it and live through it.

 How very true. Our lives may seem so safe and secure, but uncertainties do creep in around the edges. Then we worry, but maybe a novel can remind us, there's a strength we might aspire to that will bring us through. I'm really looking forward to reading this.

About the Author

Chrissie lives in London with her husband and is a freelance Production Coordinator working in the TV, documentary and film industry. 
Chrissie is also an Author.  Her thriller Integrate was released in October 2013.  Chrissie is currently working on two sequels to Integrate called Temperance and Retribution.  Both will be released in 2015.
Other written work includes factual articles for the Bristolian newspaper and guest articles for the charities Epilepsy Awareness Squad and Epilepsy Literary Heritage Foundation.  Chrissie has also written a book of short stories and poems, one of which was performed at the 100 poems by 100 women event at the Bath International Literary Festival in 2013.

Chrissie is passionate about Ancient History, Archaeology and Travel, and has completed two six-month Archaeology and Egyptology courses with Exeter University.   She also likes to read, collect books, make bracelets and listens to music. To find out more about Chrissie visit her website

Other links:

Twitter - @Chrissie_author


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