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on 9 December 2013
A character back story and a diversion to Athens in the 70's feature in this new volume of the Greek Village series.
It is interesting to watch the author develop and grow as the series continues- widening the range and scope of her stories and characters and here painting a wonderful portrait of Athens to provide contract with the smaller( but no less interesting) village milieu.
Here we follow Theo who has appeared as a subsidiary character in as he goes through a peculiarly Greek mid life crisis.
A spur of the moment decision sees him embark on a modern day Odyssey as he flees the village he has lived in all his life and heads for the city.
Along the way he encounters the good , the bad and the ugly- witches, thieves, gypsies, kindness and pain, natural disaster, temptation and the chance of redemption- even his own version of Odysseus' faithful Argo.
A very good read that leaves you looking forward to the next book.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 April 2014
In The Shade of the Monkey Puzzle Tree – Sara Alexi

I’m so pleased that I found this series written about a little village in Greece and one by one, we’re told stories of the various inhabitants.

In this one, we learn Theo’s story. We’ve met him perfunctorily before as he runs the kafeneio where all the villagers come to drink coffee and ouzo and swop stories. Because we’ve sort of met him, we don’t realise just how tough life was for him growing up under his Baba’s thumb and it’s in this book we find ourselves travelling with him to escape the village and his parents when he runs away to Athens to spread his wings and learn to become his own person.

Each book is a snapshot of one of the villagers’ lives, but at the same time, when we get to hear that individual’s story, we’ve already kind of met them because of their living in this little village.

Long may this series last!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 June 2014
Just finished the last Greek Island book,and I loved it,was sorry when he left the Village,and went to Athens,and didn't think he fitted In there,and the way sara writes about the people and the place made me feel like I was with him,and I felt sorry for him the way he was treated with the women that he rented his first place from,then glad when he came back to the village,then sad he the women he loved didn't want him,then happy again when he went back to the village to stay,and she come to live there,great read,it was a rollercoaster of emotions,loved it,can't wait to read the next book she has written,a must read.
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on 22 April 2017
A good read as usual from Sara but one of the harder ones, such good reading, I love her books
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on 20 July 2017
Another fantastic book by Sara Alexi
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on 14 August 2017
Another great book by Sara Alexi
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 December 2013
I have read all this series of books and enjoyed every one of them - all for different reasons. Ms Alexi appears to have the ability to make all the books fit into the series but yet retain their own very different individuality.
In this book again, a relatively minor character from the previous books gets promoted to main and we learn more about what makes them tick and how they fit in to the whole world that has been created. The characterisation as always is excellent I really did care/like/hate them.
This book again takes us out of the village and into the big city and it is interesting to see the differences both in terms of landscape and attitude.
It's a relatively easy book to read and I got through it quite quickly but, do not be deceived, like the others in the series, there can be much more substance under the story if you choose to look...
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on 5 January 2014
I had previously read the very moving 'The Illegal Gardener' and was about to move onto the second book in the Greek Village Series when Sara Alexi brought this latest book to my attention via twitter. So I decided to read this as I believe all the books in the Greek Village Series can be read as standalone books.

The book is about an unmarried 40 year old man, Theo living with his parents in the remote mountain village location of Saros. He works in the family business helping run the village Kafeneio with his overbearing and stubborn father. Because of his father he is unable to make his own mark and grow. As a result he feels suffocated and frustrated and wants to escape. So one day when it all gets too much for him he ups and leaves for Athens without telling anyone, feeling liberated in the process.

While in Athens although initially excited by the freedom and independence , he soon experiences the hard realities of city life which include grime ,pollution, dishonesty, poverty and overwhelming isolation. He learns how to survive life in the city and although at one point he loses his way morally, he pulls himself up and redeems himself. Towards the end he has to make some hard and difficult choices between one way of life or another and complete his journey!

This is a beautifullly written descriptive book and I could feel, sense, smell and almost taste the things Sara was describing. The book is a visual delight. It's like I was actually there myself in either Saros or Athens, whether in the Kafeneio, the rented Athens flat or the bar. I completely lost myself in the places and the characters. I also loved Theo's emotional journey and the resulting conclusion to the story

This is the most satisfying book I have read in some time and a wonderful read to start the year 2014! I can't wait now to read books 2 to 5 of the Greek Village Series. If I could have given this book more then 5 stars I would have! Sara is a very talented author and I do believe she deserves to be up there with the greats!
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on 17 December 2013
A Review of In the Shade of the Monkey Puzzle Tree (The Greek Island series)

In this, the latest in Sara Alexi's wonderful Greek Island series, the reader is transported to Athens in the 1970s, along with the unlikely hero of the book, Theo. Seeking to escape the claustrophobic nature of village and family life, he takes off for the bright lights of the capital to make his mark... The book deals with a dilemma faced by many people in Greece, torn between the traditional ways and the attractions and perceived opportunities offered by diaspora either at home or abroad. Although particularly poignant to Greece, it is a universal question faced by most people at some stage during their lives. Loving the village as Sara Alexi's regular readers will do, it is all too easy to rail against the foolhardiness of Theo for leaving. It says much about the book that we really care, and the story rattles along like the bone-shaker of a bus which delivers Theo across the mountains to Athens. This adventure is measured in more than the distance he travels in miles but in the emotional journey he experiences along the way. Again Sara Alexi engages the reader from first to last, a great read from a master of her craft. Richard Clark
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on 21 March 2014
I look forward to reading each of Sara Alexi’s books and feel as if I have been on the journey with her since the beginning, with the first book in the series, The Illegal Gardener.’ I never thought at the time that it would develop into such a successful series and I love the way that a minor character in one book can become the protagonist in another.
I devoured this book not wanting to put it down. Sara’s style of writing is deceptive, however, as although the books are quite short and the reader doesn’t want the story to end, the characters continue to play on your mind long after you finish the book.
I particularly enjoy the depiction of Greece in this series and I always gain inspiration from her novels. ‘In the shade of the monkey puzzle tree’ is no exception. Theo’s story is interesting as he has a kind of mid-life crisis and I loved the way his life flitted between Athens and the village. I feel as if I have actually been inside the kafeneion, so descriptive is this book.
Once again I am looking forward to the next in the series. Sara Alexi never disappoints!
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