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on 17 May 2005
As lovers of Greece, we try to find at least one book about the country every time we visit. Last summer we took this book and have never cried so much - with laughter! We have many Greek friends and they will not mind us saying that the eccentricity of the village people is all true, but told with such love, warmth and respect. The Joke is on the author and he is not afraid to share his stupidity with the reader. Our daughters had great empathy with his children; they too have had to experience the fall out from some of their parents stranger efforts to fit in with the community. We cannot recommend this book enough BUT be warned! you get very funny looks from others on beaches, in tavernas and planes as you are helpless with laughter, tears pouring down your face! Strange lot these tourists!
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on 24 January 2005
This is, quite simply, the funniest and most realistic book about an 'in-comer' living in a Greek community. This is how it really is! The struggles, the humour, the peculiarities and friendships. It is a 'warts and all' book. It captures the very essence of what living in Greece is all about. If you have read other peoples accounts of living in a foreign country and felt let down by the stories then BUY THIS BOOK! It will make you laugh out loud.
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on 3 August 2004
John Mole's account of his family's struggle to set up home in a Greek ruin in the 1960s and 70s provides a hilarious and lavishly drawn portrait of Greek life; the English struggle to fit in; and the perils of both parenthood and DIY.
Full to bursting with anecdotes of varying comic value, this book acts both as warning and temptation to the lover of Greece as Mole persevers in creating his Greek 'idyll'. Engagingly written and affectionately drawn, the efforts of both Brits (downing Ouzo at 10am) and Greeks (turfing a tiny, parched lawn)to behave like 'Europeans' provide an endearing and unfailingly entertaining read.
Perfect for the holidaymaker - particularly those who dream of finding a little Greek idyll of their own - but who may, after reading this book, decide to buy in their rooftiles...
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on 10 August 2004
John Mole provides a beautifully observed account of an Englishman comming to grips with rural greek culture. Each chapter illustrates new aspects of the amazing characters that make up the village whilst holding up a mirror to our own cultural peculiarities. It's a book that will put a smile on your face a have you gently chuckling away to yourself as you follow John Moles journey.
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on 20 July 2004
Reminiscent partly of "My Family and Other Animals" and partly of "A Year in Provence" but infinitely funnier than either, this book tells the story of how John Mole and his family acquired their dream home on the Greek island of Evia.
Acquired is perhaps not the right word. What John actually bought - from a wily and moustachioed butcher called Ajax - was a view of an unspoilt landscape that took the breath away. The only trouble was that the house that went with the view had no roof, practically no floor and a twenty-year accretion of goat dung in which lurked some very undesirable wildlife. The fact that there was no mains water or electricity was almost incidental.
Fortunately, John's indomitable wife Arfa - so-called because, when offered wine, she would want "just half a glass" - was also captivated by the view; she was less enraptured by some of the other features of her new home including the huge snake that crawled from under the stone on which she sat down to eat her picnic lunch. Realising that he had made a bad mistake John set out to ask the vendor for his money back only to find that it had all been spent on a brand new cold-store for the butcher's shop. Too late. Nothing for it but to make the best of things and turn the house into what he would have liked it to be in the first place.
The rest of the book is about that. How the house took shape and with it the family's new life in Evia. Vividly- drawn characters populate this book: John and Arfa's four feisty children, the vampish Antigone who yearns to be a croupier on a cruise ship but ends up marrying a prosperous and middle-aged local builder and Alekos the taxi driver who spent years in Melbourne. Possibly my favourite character is Hector the family dog, who was rescued by John as a tiny abandoned puppy but grew up to be the pet from hell.
Some of the funniest passages from the book stem from John's mistakes with the Greek language such as when he tells the builder that he does not want chipboard on the ceiling - "Squid. I want the ceilings made of squid". (He meant to say "reeds"). Then there was the old man who, seeing John at work in the garden, asked what he was planting: "Unfortunately, the word for vegetables and the word for sausages are confusingly similar and he thought that I was making fun of him."
Actually, something that distinguishes this book from others of the genre is that John Mole never makes fun of those with whom he found himself living. Even some of the stranger local customs are taken at face value and he never adopts the affectionate-but-patronising tone that is evident in other expatriate memoirs. Nor is this just a rollicking holiday read. Fascinating snippets of or ancient history or legend appear in the most light-hearted episodes and you will finish this book not only highly amused but also much better informed.
John Mole clearly loves Greece and the Greeks but you don't have to share his tastes to enjoy this book. I'm not sure that I will be trying to talk my family into a similar step into the unknown but I'll certainly be looking out for further books by this author. I enjoyed "It's All Greek to me" enormously and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in foreign travel, DIY, food, the triumph of the human spirit over adversity or just being entertained.
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on 23 July 2004
As a Greek ex-pat who moved to England nearly 20 years ago I am always very interested in reading books that describe the Greece that I left. Quite often books written by non-Greeks don't get to the heart and soul of the Greece that I knew. Thankfully his book is a glorious exception to this. It is a funny, witty and above all else a warm account of Greece, Greeks and the Greek life. The joy and fun that the author has experienced in Greece shine through in every page. These attributes and well sketched characters are sprinkled with a healthy dose of historical fact and analysis to make this an absolute joy to read and a real page turner. I whizzed through this book in a flurry of laughter and amazement. I'd recommend this as a great introduction to the joys of Greece and for those of us who know Greece better it's a real affirmation of everything that makes Greece such a special and wonderful country.
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on 23 July 2004
My family went through a similar experience to this author - buying a run down house in rural Greece at the beginning of the 80's - so I couldn't wait to read this book.
I got more than I bargained for. John Mole obviously gained great insight into what makes Greece special, and gets big laughs from showing us how he learned the hard way.
This book contains an unusual number of episodes that will make you laugh out loud, and should be of interest to anyone who enjoys comedy and real, touching human stories. I stress this is not just for DIY and travel addicts.
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on 13 June 2005
What can I say This is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. This book is a must for all Greekophiles, like myself, it combines humour of the highest degree, especially that mad dog, along with a fleeting glance at the life in a village atmosphere, it really is a must to read.
Best wishes
Phil Tittensor
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on 22 October 2012
I have always loved the books by Gerald Durell and this is definitely in the same category. I've been seduced by several different genres over the years, but this was too good an opportunity to get back into the gentle British humour inspired by an overseas experience. I was looking for "Driving over Lemons" after foolishly listening to Rick Stein...glad I read this first!

I warn all readers...make sure that you either read it whilst alone, or failing that, in the company of people that you don't know, as they will undoubtedly be witnessing you crying and snorting with laughter - unattractive, but unavoidable. Luckily I managed to avoid such embarrasment (husband was asleep, thankfully)...not that I would care, as this was a joy. Written in a warm and self-deprecating way, this book managed to both entertain and leave me feeling happy to have been taken along with the author and his family on a trip that I will be unlikely to take with my own.

I would heartily recommend this book as an antidote to feeling jaded with all that's wearing in Britain's witty, happy, unpretentious and old-fashioned enough that I guarantee a warm feeling when you read it. Don't even think about "Driving over Lemons" - this is a much better read, so enjoy! x
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I took this book with me on my recent holiday to Greece, and while enjoyable it wasn't quite what I expected. It's a short read, telling the story of the Mole family buying a house in Greece and moving there, but rather than a tale of life in Greece it is more focused on the trials and tribulations of buying a ruined property and renovating it, so there is much talk of buying tiles, digging out basements, installing roof timbers, fitting septic tanks and so on. Personally I'd expected the book to have been about life in Greece, but in some ways it was more like a DIY manual!

I also found it a little disappointing that the book didn't feature any pictures aside from a few drawings - I would have loved to have seen some photos of the house, the village, and so on - plus at the end it is revealed that there is some fictionalization in the text, with names and character descriptions altered throughout and events being changed in places.

All in all it was a very short read, and as enjoyable as it was I'd have liked to have read more about life in Greece, rather than how to renovate a house.
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