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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Blend of Fact and Fiction and Some Wonderfully Descriptive Writing
Sofka Zinovieff's first novel 'The House on Paradise Street' is an engrossing, interesting and warmly convincing story with two narrative voices; one of whose is Maud, wife of Nikitas Perifanis, and the other, Antigone, the estranged mother of Nikitas, and a former freedom fighter who was forced to leave Greece for Russia during the Greek Civil War, and in doing so,...
Published on 11 Mar 2012 by Susie B

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Can't get up a lot of enthusiasm
to finish this book! Not particularly well written, flat characters, no atmosphere and yet set in what could be interesting places.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Blend of Fact and Fiction and Some Wonderfully Descriptive Writing, 11 Mar 2012
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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Sofka Zinovieff's first novel 'The House on Paradise Street' is an engrossing, interesting and warmly convincing story with two narrative voices; one of whose is Maud, wife of Nikitas Perifanis, and the other, Antigone, the estranged mother of Nikitas, and a former freedom fighter who was forced to leave Greece for Russia during the Greek Civil War, and in doing so, abandoned Nikitas as a small child.

When Nikitas, a vibrant and gregarious, but sometimes difficult man, is killed in a car accident in Athens, his wife Maud (much younger than Nikitas and his third wife) feels compelled to search into Nikitas' complicated past life and in doing so, she tracks down Nikitas' mother, Antigone, in order to provide answers to questions that only Antigone can answer. After sixty years in exile, Antigone returns home to Greece, but can she become reconciled with her family or has too much pain, suffering and grief been caused to avoid this ever taking place?

I have no wish to spoil this story for prospective readers, so I will try not to reveal too much information in this review, but I can say that this is an absorbing family story which moves backwards and forwards in time and takes the reader to Nazi-occupied Athens and then relates how a young Antigone gets caught up in the political machinations of the Greek Civil War which leads to her being forced to leave her homeland and find a place for herself in a very different country. There is some wonderfully descriptive writing here; the author's portrayal of Greece is beautifully depicted, as is her account of Antigone's young partisan years as she hides in the mountains for survival. Sofka Zinovieff has blended together an interesting mix of both fact and fiction in 'The House on Paradise Street' and the result is an engrossing story with a wonderful sense of time and place.

4 Stars.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Story of History and Humanity, 21 May 2012
But I was a little worried, not quite sure if I understood enough about Greek history to appreciate a novel set against its occupation and its civil wars.I dithered for a while, but in the end I couldn't resist a novel that held so much promise. And as I read I realised that my worries were unfounded. I absorbed, and began to understand, that history through wonderful human stories.

First there was Maud: an expatriate Englishwoman who had married into a Greek family, adopted a new way of life, and raised a daughter.

Maud's husband, Nikitas, died in a road accident. And his widow was grief-stricken and, as she came to terms with what had happened. She had no idea why her husband had been driving at night, out in the country, and as she tried to work things out she realised that there was a lot she didn't know about her husband.

She knew that he had been charismatic, erudite, respected by his peers. She knew that she had been his third wife. But she wanted to understand his history. Why he had abandoned by his mother when he was a baby, to be raised by his aunt.his mother had abandoned him when he was a baby, leaving him to be raised by his aunt, never seeing him again.

And when her son dies Antigone realises that it is time to return to her homeland. though she knows it will not be easy. When the Nazis occupied Greece, Antigone, and her brother Markos, joined Communist insurgents to fight against the occupying forces. Their sister, Alexandra, was horrified and her Nazi sympathiser husband, Spiros was happy to inflame the situation. In the end there had been a tragedy, and relationships were shattered.

The story moves between Maud and Antigone, between past and present. Through momentous historical events, through complex human relationships, through terrible, moral dilemmas.

It's a big story, full of history, full of humanity, full of change, and yet it is always lucid, always compelling.

It gave me some understanding of what it might be live through occupation and civil war, how families can be torn about, how so much can be lost, how the past inevitably shapes the present.

And it brought Greece to life: the food, the streets, the climate, the communities, the politics. The contrast between Maud, an Englishwoman who had joined a family and made a life in Greece, and Antigone, a Greek woman who had left a family and made a life abroad, was striking and added depth. As did the different experiences and perspectives of three different generations.

It was the characters that made the story sing: intriguing, fallible, utterly believable human beings.

The only thing I didn't like was the occasional sense of contrivance, of the story having to be rounded. But that was easy to forgive when there was so much to love, such a wonderful story of history and humanity.

It really is an accomplished debut novel.

And now that I have read it I will definitely be bringing home Sofka Zinovieff's non fiction ...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartfelt depiction of family, feuds and war, 6 Nov 2012
This review is from: The House on Paradise Street (Paperback)
Sofka Zinovieff's "House on Paradise Street" is a novel straight from the heart. One can see the amount of research that has gone in to creating this masterpiece.
For anyone wanting to look beyond Greece's sunshine and blue seas, this book is a must.
I have often said that in order to understand a person's present, they must understand their past. The same applies to countries, and never is this a truer statement than that of Greece.
The past shapes the present and can never be ignored. Sofka helps us to understand why present day Greece is the way she is - and how outside powers have excerted so much influence over this region.

Thank you for a very intelligent read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read, 7 Mar 2012
Having been a big fan of "The Red Countess", I was really looking forward to Sofka Zinovieff's first novel. I was not disappointed. "The House on Paradise Street" is a great read: well written, strong characters and set during a turbulent period of Greek history which has disturbing parallels with what is happening right now on the streets of Athens. The writer's understanding of the Greek culture and way of life comes through every page but it is the story - and in particular the relationship between the two sisters - that grips you and, in my case, had me scurrying home from an event so that I could find out what happened in the end. If you enjoyed Victoria Hislop's "The Thread", you will love this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, gripping, touching and extremely informative, 19 Aug 2012
This review is from: The House on Paradise Street (Paperback)
I really enjoyed the House on Paradise Street. It's such a page turner and I would reccomend it to anybody. Not only was it a fantastic story but also very informative on Greek history. Being a greek-english student myself, I was fascinated to find out so much about Greece and see how its past is so linked with the present. The author is so talented at capturing the very real emotions of each character, provoking both laughter and tears in the reader.
I have just started her first book Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens, and am already enjoying it. To cut a long story short, if you have any interest in Greece and you want to understand the crisis on a more personal level, then I would reccomend this book. Fantastic read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars living history, 10 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The House on Paradise Street (Paperback)
An excellent book, well written. Explains a lot about the civil war after the Germans had left Greece, and both sides of the conflict are very well presented, through a good storyline.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read, 28 Oct 2012
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I was a little worried, not quite sure if I understood enough about Greek history to appreciate a novel set against its occupation and its civil wars.I dithered for a while, but in the end I couldn’t resist a novel that held so much promise. And as I read I realised that my worries were unfounded. I absorbed, and began to understand, that history through wonderful human stories.

First there was Maud: an expatriate Englishwoman who had married into a Greek family, adopted a new way of life, and raised a daughter.

Maud’s husband, Nikitas, died in a road accident. And his widow was grief-stricken and, as she came to terms with what had happened. She had no idea why her husband had been driving at night, out in the country, and as she tried to work things out she realised that there was a lot she didn’t know about her husband.

She knew that he had been charismatic, erudite, respected by his peers. She knew that she had been his third wife. But she wanted to understand his history. Why he had abandoned by his mother when he was a baby, to be raised by his aunt.his mother had abandoned him when he was a baby, leaving him to be raised by his aunt, never seeing him again.

And when her son dies Antigone realises that it is time to return to her homeland. though she knows it will not be easy. When the Nazis occupied Greece, Antigone, and her brother Markos, joined Communist insurgents to fight against the occupying forces. Their sister, Alexandra, was horrified and her Nazi sympathiser husband, Spiros was happy to inflame the situation. In the end there had been a tragedy, and relationships were shattered.

The story moves between Maud and Antigone, between past and present. Through momentous historical events, through complex human relationships, through terrible, moral dilemmas.

It’s a big story, full of history, full of humanity, full of change, and yet it is always lucid, always compelling.

It gave me some understanding of what it might be live through occupation and civil war, how families can be torn about, how so much can be lost, how the past inevitably shapes the present.

And it brought Greece to life: the food, the streets, the climate, the communities, the politics. The contrast between Maud, an Englishwoman who had joined a family and made a life in Greece, and Antigone, a Greek woman who had left a family and made a life abroad, was striking and added depth. As did the different experiences and perspectives of three different generations.

It was the characters that made the story sing: intriguing, fallible, utterly believable human beings.

The only thing I didn’t like was the occasional sense of contrivance, of the story having to be rounded. But that was easy to forgive when there was so much to love, such a wonderful story of history and humanity.

It really is an accomplished debut novel.

And now that I have read it I will definitely be bringing home Sofka Zinovieff’s non fiction …
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5.0 out of 5 stars Author Sophia Zinovieff cleverly weaves historical facts with fictional characters and a family torn apart by love and hate, 26 July 2014
By 
Pauline Hager (La Jolla, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The author has taken episodes from 60 years of Modern Greek history, beginning with the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II, and crafts an interesting and well-written novel. Two women narrate their stories, each taking turns. First to narrate is expatriate English women Maud, devoiced wife of flamboyant Greek husband Nikitas Perifanis. He dies in an auto accident and from there the story unfolds. Maude narrates her life living with Nikitas in the family's three-story compound on Paradise Street in Athens, shared with her upper-class Greek in-laws.
Antigone, Nikitas' estranged mother, returns to the house on Paradise Street after years of living in exile in Russia, to attend her son's funeral. Antigone and her younger brother lived and fought in the mountains during the Greek Civil War, siding with the communists. She was raped and had a son, Nikitas. When the war ended, she was sentenced to jail where her son was born and resided with her until he was two years old. Antigone was forced to abandon Nikitas and moved to Russia for her safety. Her older sister Alexandra and her husband raised the boy and never forgave Antigone, unbeknown of her circumstances. Upon her return to Greece, Antigone must reconcile her differences with her large family. Author Sophia Zinovieff cleverly weaves historical facts with fictional characters and a family torn apart by love and hate, wars and foreign occupiers, into a believable and exciting read. One can learn Modern Greek history by reading this novel.
The English born author obviously understands the Greek psyche and the suffering they have endured with foreign invaders throughout their long history. Peppering her writing with Greek phrases adds familiarity with the characters she created.

Pauline Hager, author of
Giorgi's Greek Tragedy
Memoirs of an American Housewife in Japan
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous novel, 19 Mar 2013
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This is a skilfully written novel by a highly talented author. Her prose is a delight to read and her story is powerful, gripping and meticulously researched. Anyone who is familiar with Athens will immediately recognise the sights, smells and sounds she describes so well. Those who are new to the city and its recent history will find it a fascinating insight into a country which many know only as a tourist destination. I do hope there will be many more books about the author's adopted homeland. Having finished both this and 'Eurydice Street', I feel bereft. The next budget flight to Athens will be dreary indeed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The House on Paradise Street, 24 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The House on Paradise Street (Paperback)
A wonderful book and it is little wonder that it was chosen to be read at 'A book at bedtime' on Radio 4. It gives one a much greater understanding of the turmoil that affected Greece after the war.
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The House on Paradise Street
The House on Paradise Street by Sofka Zinovieff (Paperback - 2 Aug 2012)
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