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Greek Expectations: The Last Moussaka Standing Paperback – 10 Oct 2013
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About the Author
With a father hailing from Greece and a mother with roots as mixed as a tequila sunrise, Ekaterina Botziou grew up with a very confused identity. Born in Leigh-on-Sea, England, she spent her formative years learning that every word comes from the Greek language. After studying Law at University College London, she signed with an acting agency and worked on several films and television productions, donning dodgy wigs and smelly costumes while moonlighting as a PA. Now living in Wimbledon, Ekaterina also writes for various London and foreign publications and is the founder of The Greek Wives Club; a place for all the wives / girlfriends / partners / friends of Greek men, who may not even be Greek themselves, to come together and share their experiences of life with a Spartan ape. www.ekaterinabotziou.com
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Top customer reviews
So much of what Ekaterina Botziou says about Greek customs, Greek men and Greek families, I have experienced first hand and her observations are spot on. It is quite a talent to point out all the faults a foreigner is likely to encounter on marrying a Greek yet at the same time let your profound love for the country shine through. Like all good satires, the book is based on truth but it is done in such a good-natured way.
If you are looking for a humorous, light-hearted read, want to find out more about Greek culture or are thinking of visiting Greece, this is a must-read. However, if you are planning on getting married to a Greek then proceed with caution. You may not feel quite the same again after reading this book!
It is no surprise that the book quotes heavily from the delightful movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. The male Greek, as is portrayed in the book, seems to describe characters from the aforementioned movie. But these characters are caricatures, mere ghosts of a lost era, simply because they belong to Greek society back in the 50s, 60s, 70s max. The difference here is that the characters from the movie seem genuine because they are exactly what they claim to be: Greek emigrants living abroad, whereas the author is generalizing, as to include the Greek males and their families living in Greece today, which is of course a fallacy.
In my experience, the majority of Greek emigrants and their offspring who live abroad today, still see Greece through the rose-tinted glasses of the good old Greek movies of forty-sixty years ago where stereotypes were at their best. Every resident Greek who has family abroad will know what I’m talking about because their emigrant family members seem to be stuck in a time capsule. Whenever they visit Greece, they clash badly with modern Greek society here. They appear so quaint and naïve at times, that the resident Greeks often become frustrated or even offended, as they try to explain that things have changed since they left Greece. For example, their emigrant uncles, aunts and cousins may seem stunned to come across a big mall here or to find out that the local supermarket stocks curry powder or mosquito repellent.
And no matter how many times they come back for a holiday, they still don’t seem to get it. They’re somehow foreign to today’s Greece, just like the shepherd’s ‘tagari’ in the old movie ‘Koritsia Ston Ilio’ and the nostalgic bouzouki chords in ‘Never on Sunday’. Not that there’s anything wrong with all that, it’s just that they have nothing to do with Greek society today.
Having been raised in Athens, I know well that Greek men are nothing like the caricatures of a bygone era portrayed in this book. Not only are they able to choose their own pairs of socks without mamma’s help, but they’re happy to let their wives work while they stay home cooking, hoovering and changing diapers.
As I said, the book’s merit is in its wit and humour, as well as in the astuteness with which all the characteristics of the extinct Greek male are listed. The only problem with this book is a misquotation. It falsely refers to the male Greek in general, when what it does is describe the male Greek emigrant living abroad. As I said, they often appear to be rather stuck in Greece’s distant past, and therefore I have no trouble believing the author’s claim that all the anecdotes involving her in laws in the UK are absolutely true.
Having explained how estranged I felt towards the aforementioned elements in the book, I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed the memoir parts in it. The author has an amazing talent for relaying old memories that brim with nostalgia, sweetness and the joy of being young and carefree. I think it’s a gift that should be pursued further, as it would be a shame not to put it to good use.
My overall impression of this book is that the author delivers the humour intelligently and wittily. This is why, regardless of my aforementioned grievances, I’m giving this book four stars for the hilarity, as well as for the author’s great use of language and obvious writing talent. Indeed, if there was less rant and more memoir, it would be a gem of a book! I really hope to read such a book from this author in future.
Botziou states that Greek men are difficult, a comment I’d heard from my mother many, many, many times, however, Italian women have told me that Italian men are impossible, and Spanish women have said the same.
The non-Greek will learn a lot about Greek culture and traditions in a tongue and cheek manner that may have the reader thinking twice before considering to date one. My nephew recently told me that his non-Greek friend is dating a Greek girl. He confided to my nephew that he just couldn’t do it anymore. It’s too much—way too much—overwhelming.
We’re really not that bad. Okay we spit to keep the evil eye away, and our church services are more like a marathon than a sprint, and we tend to like everything Greek—food, music, language, etc. But that is true more for the Greeks who live out of the mother country. We have to hold on to our Greekness somehow! Is it really that bad that my mom wouldn’t leave the movie theater until she saw the credits, looking for Greek names so she could point them out?
To read the book you would think Botziou would like to escape all that is Greek—the husband, in-laws and all the expectations of every Greek person she comes in contact with. On the surface, it seems she resents the traditions and the culture. She also must have a very secure family to know she is simply poking fun and not to take her seriously. The truth is that through all the jokes and sarcastic remarks you can sense that deep down she is extremely proud of her heritage.
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