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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1st world war greece
There are some books which are a fair read, some which are a good read, and some which are unputdownable. This book falls in to the latter category. It is beautifully crafted and extremely well researched. The tension steadily increases as we near the end. A young boy discovers his mother's secret diary and finds it compelling. The narrative is in diary format...
Published on 22 Mar. 2006 by geoffdale1

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Historical Romance
The story begins with 14-year-old Andrew Clarke, Dorothy's son by a Greek officer in Selonika, discovering and reading his mother's personal diaries, which give a detailed account of her life between 1st January 1916 and October 1917, when she returns home to the UK pregnant with Andrew, who until he reads his mother's diaries knows nothing at all about his Greek...
Published on 15 Nov. 2012 by E J Miller


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1st world war greece, 22 Mar. 2006
This review is from: The Long Shadow (Paperback)
There are some books which are a fair read, some which are a good read, and some which are unputdownable. This book falls in to the latter category. It is beautifully crafted and extremely well researched. The tension steadily increases as we near the end. A young boy discovers his mother's secret diary and finds it compelling. The narrative is in diary format and the story in the first half is about his mother in 1st world war Salonica. The second half covers the son's adventures which bring the book to an exciting conclusion. You really feel as if you were there. Congratulations - we look forward to more books by this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Long Shadow, 25 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: The Long Shadow (Paperback)
This is a most compelling read. I sat up to the early hours reading the last couple of hundred pages, not wishing to let it go.

It is a book of two halves: the first set in Salonica (Thessaloniki, Greece) during the First World War: our heroine a well-bred English nurse who falls in love with a Greek Army Officer. Set twenty years or so later, the second half just pre-dates the Second World War when our heroine's son returns to Greece in search of his own past.

I came to The Long Shadow because I wished to learn more about the often ignored Salonica Campaign of the First World War in which my grandfather took part. Loretta Proctor has clearly researched this place and time with great diligence and manages to convey a vivid account and flavour of the period. Her own Greek origins must have been a great help.

Not everyone will feel that diary entries with extensive direct speech is an appropriate medium for recounting the narrative and the historical detail. It may jar with some, but for me it worked just fine and did not grate at all. I accepted that our heroine was a most meticulous recorder of conversations.

Having taken all and more than I hoped to take from the first half of the book, the second half was a welcome and exhilarating bonus and surprise. Our heroine's son embraces Greece with his father's vigour. I was right behind him all the way. As an admirer of the rebetika tradition of Greek popular songs, I particularly enjoyed reading about his sally into the community of the manga and the respect he received there as a palikari.

Loretta Proctor writes with an easy and sympathetic manner. She tells a good tale. I am hoping my wife's book club will read it and ask me to join in their discussions!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Greek myth, 13 July 2009
This review is from: The Long Shadow (Paperback)
I became instantly emotionally involved with this epic story. The author, herself Anglo-Greek, writes with visionary passion about the contrasting societies of Greece and England. `The Long Shadow' shows how events that occurred under the bright sunshine of Greece created shadows that fell upon the English countryside, touching Downlands `a quiet, decaying, lovely old place, set in the soft rolling hills of the Gloucestershire countryside. It is here that the teenage Andrew finds and reads his mother's hidden diary, and abandoning his English family, sets out on a journey to Greece.
Under various different `rational' guises, all the characters in `The Long Shadow' are motivated by love, and this makes it a very human and fascinating book. Some people, such as the glamorous Marika, keep all their love for themselves. Others, like Andrew's mother Dorothy are inspired by higher ideals. Having trained as a nurse, and ignoring all the people who didn't `approve of ladies being involved in the war effort' she travels to Salonika in Greece, during the First World War. The descriptions of the hospital camp are so detailed and involving that I could see it all, even smell it, and certainly taste the horrible food. Dorothy shows infinite care for the ill and wounded soldiers in her care, until a passionate romantic love tears apart her carefully organised life plan. Loretta Proctor expertly conveys the light-hearted joy of two people in love and the abandonment of English reserve to Greek passion. Thrillingly true romance!
Fulfilled love, frustrated love, excessive self love, characters who fight and die for love of their country - the deadening pain of losing a loved one - I went through all these emotions with the characters. The suffering of the refugees from Smyrna broke my heart, and the descriptions of their music and dancing at Bald Yiango's cafe are inspirational. I intend to find some recordings to hear it for myself.
The story is greatly enhanced by the powerful sense of place. For example, the author's descriptions of old Salonika, especially the mysterious and fascinating Jewish and Turkish areas of the city, made me want to go there immediately. Alas, later in the book I discovered that `the coloured houses, the minarets, the church domes and cypress trees' have all vanished, replaced by `white blocks of apartments and high buildings', in the more modern city of Thessalonika.
I knew very little about the history of modern Greece, until I read `The Long Shadow.' Loretta Proctor is obviously an expert, but the details that she gives us are all on the human scale, so that I had the feeling of living through these troubles with the characters. `The Long Shadow' gives a direct and personal view of history, full of truth, vibrant life and especially of love. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Shadow of Circumstance, 25 July 2012
This review is from: The Long Shadow (Kindle Edition)
This book is largely based on a diary of a nurse stationed in Salonika during the First World War, and the effect of illicitly reading that diary on her son, Andrew. His solitary recovery of the events in this diary illuminates both his inheritance, and his current relationships, casting the 'long shadow' produced by its abruptly curtailed whirlwind romance. The personal story is equally reflective of the 'long shadow' cast by the war itself. This is a skillful parallel between the events for the characters and the wider stage in which their play takes shape.

Some of that almost soporific lulling also comes from the recapture of an age of innocence. The nurse Dorothy is young, and although she has decided opinions on most things, from pastries to people, she is conveyed as essentially uncritical, swept along equally by her compelling attraction to a Rhett Butler Greek of glittering dark eyes, as much as to her devotion to her role as nursing aide to the restrained and devoted doctor, Ethan Willoughby. In that sense it has the ingredients of conflicted romance, a very English Home Counties romance where the longing for wild exuberance is tempered by restraint, though not entirely!

There are well drawn characters, the polished Greek mother in her well ordered home of servants, ice cold water wells for cooling wine, of shutters and aromatic gardens; and her counterpart the present day English grandmother in a crumbling gracious Edwardian home, Downlands. The encounters with the Greek peasants, shepherds, runners, dancers and festivals falls like bright light on the impressionable Dorothy, avid for adventure, making the most of her war's interludes (and living with that living for ever after). Through her the reader is given the incandescence of a fresh light at the most dark period of European affairs. The details of Greek habits, food and peppered language make of this an interesting and unfamiliar meal.

The second half of the book covers the consequences of this clandestinely read diary on Andrew and on other characters we have already met in its pages. There is an underpinning philosophy akin to Julian of Norwich's 'All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well' although not necessarily in ways one might expect. Instead of a winding down, the book winds up, rather more satisfyingly, and, on reflection, entirely believable although un-anticipated.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Long Shadow, 6 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Long Shadow (Paperback)
I read this book as background to a research project on a particular woman who worked in the VAD in Salonika in 1916-18. I found the descriptions of life at the hospital to be vivid and convincing: they certainly increased my understanding of what it was like to be there, and my admiration for the volunteers. At the same time I enjoyed the novel in its own right, more than I expected, because I am not usually a reader of the historical genre. It works on different levels – as both a poignant romance, and as an analysis of what it is like to be born into two cultures and be pulled alternately in each direction whilst feeling one is not fully a part of either one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Long Shadow, 18 Sept. 2006
This review is from: The Long Shadow (Paperback)
I am not usually a great lover of romantic stories, but this one has certainly converted me, and I am eager to read her next novel, which I am sure will be as riveting, if not more so.

This is a very touching story, beautifully and sympathetically written, superbly scripted, and crafted by one of the most exciting new romantic novelists of today.

The story is set during the first world war, and it's about two people from two different cultures who are caught up in the conflict, and who fall hopelessly in love. This is a gentle story, with a slow, seductive build-up to a passionate affair, fraught with danger at every step.

The story begins when a young boy, wiling away his holidays with an old aunt, stumbles across a diary hidden in a locked trunk in the attic. The diary belongs to his mother, and is written as a full documentary account of her life during those war years, and it contains vivid details of her duties as a nurse in war-torn Greece, and how she meets a young Greek officer - who turns out to be a spy - and how she falls deeply in love with him. They become engaged (the "Greek" way) and the young nurse consequently becomes pregnant, but unfortunately her affair has a tragic ending, she returns back home to England, where she gives birth to her son, who is the main character to the story, but there is a very clever, yet somewhat surprising twist to the tale.

I am greatly impressed by her highly graphic and descriptive attention to details, which brings the story to life, and I particularly like the way she describes the cosy contents of the room where the young nurse stays with her future husband, building up a colourful picture which draws you into the scene.

The second part to the story is how her young son, by her liaison in Greece, feels compelled to make a life-changing trip to Salonika (partly due to his strained relationship with his mother, and feeling that he is an outcast) to try and trace his roots. He very soon falls into unsavoury company, where the rooms he has to stay in have a very different atmosphere than the his mother's experience of comfort and luxury all those years ago. His life becomes even more complicated when he falls under the spell of the young girl of the household where he takes refuge, only to find out that she is a prostitute as well as a talented singer at a night club.

As the story moves on, you just don't want to put the book down, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The writer deserves many stars, as she is a star in her own right! Next book please!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Long Shadow - Loretta Proctor, 18 Feb. 2006
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Scorpio (Worcestershire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Long Shadow (Paperback)
For someone like myself who is not a regular reader of novels, this book was a very pleasant surprise. Descriptions of Greece are vivid with narrative which excites interest in the characters which are both sympathetic and believable. For anyone with an interest in tracing their roots, the backdrop of First World War Salonika coupled with the exhaustive research which has obviously gone into this book makes the whole package a compulsive read - highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing story., 6 Feb. 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Long Shadow (Paperback)
With its authentic background, snapshots of Greek life and tradition, splendid mix of characters and fascinating story line, The Long Shadow is both powerful and engrossing.
Loretta Proctor’s meticulous research (detailed in the acknowledgements) and obvious love of this era has paid great dividends and with a book which is a real delight and pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story lingers long after you've finished, 29 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Long Shadow (Kindle Edition)
You know that feeling you get when you finish a novel and you've accidentally fallen in love with one of the characters? Now what do you do? The guy doesn't actually exist. This happened to me with The Long Shadow, and I've having a hard time letting go.

In all honesty, two characters, a father and his son, have both captured my romantic imagination.

The Long Shadow not only contains fascinating, unforgettable, mesmerizing characters, it has history: lots of it. It brought the horrors of World War I Greece to life, and also managed to capture those precious moments of joy that occur even in the grimmest circumstances. The end, which I could not predict, was perfect and satisfying.

This author is becoming one of my all time favorites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical romance set in the shifting boundaries of wartime Greece, 28 Jun. 2008
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This review is from: The Long Shadow (Paperback)
This book will take you on a beautifully vivid journey of discovery, tracing the culture and history of a war torn ancient Greek city, through the eyes of Andrew (Andreas) the 'love child' of an English nurse and a heroic Greek officer. Conceived during the first world war, his life is driven by fate as he struggles to discover himself and his roots. Beautiful attention to historical detail, passionately written and an adventure to read.
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The Long Shadow by Loretta Proctor
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