Suzi Stembridge's Novels, Blog & A File on Greece



The GREEK LETTERS Quartet  splits the four volumes into fifty-year periods of Modern Greek history, beginning with:


GREEK LETTERS : Volume 1 ‘BEFORE’ is set at the time of the hugely important Battle of Navarino in 1827. This battle, near modern day Pylos in the Peloponnese, sealed the fate of the Ottomans, not only ending their occupation of Greece but also by defining the end of the Greek War of Independence. It was also extremely influential in the course of European history, since at this time the Ottomans had designs on Vienna. Samuel Carr, a Philhellene leaving his comfortable life with his yeoman family, near the fast growing city of Manchester travels to Greece with the impetuousness of youth, totally unaware of the conditions he will find. Eventually reunited with a woman he met on the voyage he marries her, he still nursing a war wound from the Battle of Navarino, she striking out as an independent woman, and as it turns out much older than Samuel.  The people they meet en route will shape the destiny of Samuel’s ancestors in unexpected ways and the letters left by his wife after she dies in childbirth lead Soula and other servants to consider their value to enhance their own lives. Blackmail is clearly to become an issue for the Carr family. There is always a feeling that Samuel struggles with his sexuality and a whiff of trouble ahead is broached after his wife dies and he is left to bring up his son in the remote Mani region with the help of a dashing Greek kapetani and a motley array of servants whose original loyalty is brought into question. His wife’s manservant Cuthbert drops a letter, and Samuel seeing it, innocently picks it up and hands it back to the servant. The servant is unaware that Samuel has just bade a final goodbye to the Greek he admires most. PAPERBACK EDITION ISBN 978-1983244889


GREEK LETTERS : Volume 2 ‘AND AFTER’ sees Samuel arriving in the new Greek capital of Nafplio with his infant son and his servants. An aristocrat who had taken him under his wing at the time of the Battle makes sure he is assimilated into the new Greek society and when the first president of Greece, Capodistrias is assassinated in 1831, Samuel is proposed as the new President. This idea he greets with horror and makes plans to return to England, leaving his son with his benefactor, intending to return when he has settled the affairs of his late wife. The two youngest of his servants betray his trust before he has left Corfu and when he leaves them on the Ionian island resentment is created. The once lovable Soula links up with the scheming Cuthbert and regardless of whether Samuel is in Cheshire or Greece he will feel the effects of their several blackmail attempts threatening him through his two subsequent marriages; one to his wife’s ward who all, including Samuel, suspect may be his first wife’s illegitimate daughter - until is proved not to be so at the end of the volume - and his final marriage to the daughter of his great friend in Nafplio (and the sister of his son’s wife). At the end of Samuel’s life, Arthur, his second son, is able to send Soula on her way, empty handed but it is a hollow victory when Soula leaves Arthur in doubt of his father’s sexual persuasion. ISBN 978-1981114528


GREEK LETTERS : Volume 3 ‘THE EYES HAVE IT’ covers the Edwardian period to WW2 initially told through the childhood eyes of Samuel’s great-granddaughter Helene with an emphasis on Cheshire life prior to and during WW1 with a great deal of domestic detail (of the type that seems popular in Victorian/Edwardian reality TV shows!). As a teenager, Helene meets her fair-haired cousin Phil from Greece, descendant of Samuel’s firstborn. Her father finally seems to reconcile the rift he has always felt with his father Arthur, who favoured his twin brother who did not have the fair looks of Samuel. Wartime events, especially the shock of Helene’s cousin’s wartime injuries send her on a giddy course and the 1930s finds her in Greece, tracking down her other cousin Phil. A passionate affair and Phil’s sudden disappearance at the eve of WW2 leaves the pregnant Helene no choice but to find a husband quickly and Rosalind, brought up as this man’s daughter throughout the series, is born. There is a hint that further blackmail might arise as the book draws to a close. ISBN 978-1718709355 


GREEK LETTERS : Volume 4 ‘MUCH MORE THAN HURT’ reprises the early 19th century story through the eyes of minor characters in the first volume: giddy Soula, her angry teenage husband Aristotle, by weaving it through the travels of Rosalind’s family who for various reasons make a 21st century journey in Greece, following in the footsteps of their ancestor Samuel. Rosalind attempts to unravel her family’s ancestry; but the book she writes creates further blackmail by a 21st century Soula. Rosalind’s life is eased by fortuitously re-meeting the father of her illegitimate firstborn, Andrew, at a harrowing group therapy course on 1980s Corfu and their subsequent marriage, a second marriage for both. When her second husband dies, (not mentioned by his given name - Gerald - in this volume to give piquancy to subsequent novels,) her first husband steps in to support her, sanctioned by their family especially Andrew whose own career as a successful businessman adds a thrilling dimension to the plot. But when the family meets the namesakes of the 19th century protagonist Soula and her family, suddenly another blackmail situation is to hand.

ISBN: 978-1983038648






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