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and we have taken great pleasure in the very loud
on 13 December 2016
Being Greek Cypriot, the shadow of the film (not the book) has always been writ large in our family history, and we have taken great pleasure in the very loud, exuberant, life-affirming nature of the Cypriot community living in London. So the character of Zorba, is one that is deeply engrained. Its a book that I've always wanted to read and as a member of an all female Book Club, I thought this book might be an interesting introduction to Greek Cypriot culture and musings on life, the world, love and death. Its certainly a reflection of life, the world, love and death, but from a rather biased, male perspective. From start to end, the book derides women, and throughout the narrative, you see women only as objects of desire when they are young and beautiful. Although women are featured in the book, there are only 2 that merit any significant attention/ detail. One is an ageing courtesan (the description of her age, the lines on her face, the way her neck sags, and her make up techniques) are truly unpleasant and are described in unrelenting detail by both Zorba and the Narrator of the story. What becomes difficult to decipher is what stance the Narrator actually takes to critique, or at least reflect, on Zorba's views. The Significant Other (female) character in the story, is actually killed by other villagers for apparently causing the death of another man who was infatuated with her - the Widow. So, at various points in the book, the narrative is totally absorbed by describing a hatred of women who are not young, attractive, and sexually available to men. As it reaches its conclusion, the main (male) characters in the story find a way of resolving the murder of women as a way of keeping the peace. Reading the book, as a woman, is a truly unenlightening experience. To be avoided - particularly if you are part of an all-female book club. With apologies to my Comrades in Reading!