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The Pale Surface of Things [Paperback]

Janey Bennett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Jun 2007
A fast-moving novel in a Cretan village—kidnaps and killings, prayers and healing, ethics and ritual, and a darned good tale...
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Hopeace Press (1 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0973400722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0973400724
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 16.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,464,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Janey Bennett's acute observation of details in nature and people provides a vibrant background to her story. She spent seven years researching and writing The Pale Surface of Things, including studying Minoan culture and art, Byzantine icon painting, the botany and geology of Crete, and the rituals of a village Greek Orthodox Church. Her writings on architecture have been published in the United States and Finland, where she held a Fulbright research fellowship. A cellist, freelance editor, and author, Bennett divides her time between Hornby Island BC Canada and Bellingham Washington USA. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written story set in the Island of Crete 6 July 2011
For those who have not been at the Island of Crete and have not experienced the village life, this is a story that travels you there.
This is an interesting story of an American Archaeologist who travels to Chania and meets his own tragedy; He experiences the life and traditions of the local people, the Greek language and the Orthodox church. It also refers to the locals' experience of the Nazis during World War II.
Lastly there is a secret unfolding, so it's a book that worth reading. You would feel you experienced what you usually don't as a tourist there.
There is a website for the book at palesurfaceofthings dot com where you can find a Greek glossary used in the book, photo Gallery and much more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real story, all through, with deeply good and deeply bad people in it 19 Jun 2007
By Carol Bly - Published on
Right from the beginning, The Pale Surface of Things simply has the natural and vivid spring of story. Its characters distress or puzzle one another right from the beginning. Their stories come from their personalities and therefore the whole book is full of feeling. And it is free of contrivance. Nowadays a lot of fiction disappoints us readers because some novels are just autobiography yanked around to look like fiction. Or light-weight make-plots shined up with meaningless violence. Well, NOT THIS BOOK.. Pale Surface is the adventure of real characters.
lt takes place in a mountain village of western Crete and the nearby city, Chania. Americans and Cretans play out their personalities in some appalling and some heart-warming ways. What gives The Pale Surface of Things some of its beauty is that the author likes problems of character. She likes showing us the sometimes glorious and sometimes repulsive actions people dive into. A lot happens fast. And she loves the land of Crete. Of course travellers to Greece or Crete will love the unmistakable settings, the food, the animals, the haunting presence of both Crete's ancient past and its travail and courage under occupation during World War II. But what will get hold of you is how summoning the people of this story are. They shout to us the way Willa Cather's characters shout to us. We find ourselves reading about a bunch of locals somewhere--in Nebraska or in Crete--and suddenly we feel as if all of us, those characters, and we ourselves, are steeped in something quite wonderful together. --Carol Bly
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excavating Pale Surfaces 29 July 2007
By Glenn Wharton - Published on
I just emerged from the Pale Surface of Things. This is my first Amazon review, but I couldn't help myself. As an art conservator with years of experience on excavations in the Mediterranean, I made a direct connection with the author's analogy of revealing personal history by slowly peeling away old layers of whitewash from wall paintings. The book has a wonderful structure. I was taken into the world of the main character and the people he met on Crete, as they dug below surfaces and witnessed changed. The gentle tale of discovery told by Janey Bennett captured my imagination and fueled my desire for another Greek island adventure.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing novel, difficult to put down. 6 Sep 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
The debut novel of the multitalented, modern Renaissance woman Janey Bennett, The Pale Surface of Things is a dark story of archaeology, lies, betrayal, and murder, set in a crucible between two cultures. When an American archaeologist flees his forthcoming marriage and cozy future, he runs to the traditional world of a Cretan village... where he must confront all the anger, fear, envy and shame within himself. He becomes entangled within an utterly ruthless family vendetta. Years ago, in World War II, the village suffered horrifically at the hands of the Nazis; today, its present-day priest labors to heal the lingering wounds from that time. Ultimately a story about maturing and developing the strength to confront both internal and external demons, The Pale Surface of Things is an absorbing novel, difficult to put down.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'No Man Is An Island' 3 Aug 2007
By Grady Harp - Published on
Janey Bennett makes a startlingly fine debut as a novelist with THE PALE SURFACE OF THINGS. Not only is Bennett able to conjure a fascinating story of many complexities and intertwining plots, she is able to place her story on the island of Crete in such an assured manner that her gift for research and exploration of a certain place leads us to wonder if Crete is her home! In florid prose, exacting attention to details of each of the several plots, and in her ability to bring the reader into the realm of Crete with all of its idiosyncrasies and history and charm Bennett creates a propulsive novel that is a most satisfying read on many levels.

Bennett wisely places American characters with Cretan peoples and inserts as a common ground the presence of a priest who was born on Crete and studied in the US: the result is a flawless mix of language and concepts from both the familiar with the unfamiliar. Douglas is a young man without self direction who goes to Crete at the expense of his adopted family, the Hansons, to study Minoan Archeology and to marry the Hanson's daughter Denise. In a brilliant opening chapter Douglas is fleeing the wedding day ritual and beginning an Odyssey that will change his life. As an 'ex-patriot' of sorts Douglas encounters the friendship of Father Dimitrios who lives a celibate life tending to his villagers and restoring a war-damaged wall of art in his church, meets a young lad Aleko whose warmth and familial invitations stun the now penniless Douglas, and enters the `interior' of Crete on a fascinating journey. In a series of events so rapid fire they feel like explosions, Douglas and Aleko share experiences that test the durability of family codes and tragedies, place Douglas in jeopardy, and ultimately lead him (with the guidance of Father Dimitrios) to an understanding of himself and an acceptance of his place in the universe. '...what people take for being good is just being brave and doing it alone.'

Bennett offers many subplots that explore the presence of the Nazis on Crete in WW II, the history of a family that has been challenged by misunderstandings and vendettas, the manner in which the Hanson family finds greater happiness and worth because of the daring ending of a haughty wedding ceremony, the ways in which youth of Crete learn maturity, and copious sidebars regarding archeology, history, art restoration, Cretan foods and traditions, and the beauty of the simplicity of life on an isolated island. Crete, in so many ways, is the main character in the novel, and Bennett knows her way around her stage as well as anyone who writes. THE PALE SURFACE OF THINGS is a solid, intoxicating novel that gently reminds the reader of the importance of philosophical issues and the way they mold lives. It is a smart, entertaining, superb novel! Grady Harp, August 07
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a story 12 July 2007
By Loel Shuler - Published on
Janey Bennett's novel, The Pale Surface of Things, is a rich venture into the cultural milieu of the island of Crete, past and present. It shows us the very essence and history of Place making its mark on the people who choose to partake of it. The excellently drawn characters in her captivating story all experience the transforming revelation of truths about themselves through their encounter with the power and the culture of that ancient land.

It will provide you all the transport of a good yarn. But I promise you will find here more than mere entertainment. It offers an expansion of knowledge and even awareness of the often spiritual paucity of our own technological civilization that you will not soon forget.

To one, like myself, who is committed to the notion that we need to meet other cultures with openness of mind, willingness to listen and learn, and the shedding of notions of superiority, Ms. Bennett has written a book I hope will be read by many.

Loel B. Shuler, Author, Alaska in the Wake of the North Star
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