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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 6 November 2012
Sofka Zinovieff's "House on Paradise Street" is a novel straight from the heart. One can see the amount of research that has gone in to creating this masterpiece.
For anyone wanting to look beyond Greece's sunshine and blue seas, this book is a must.
I have often said that in order to understand a person's present, they must understand their past. The same applies to countries, and never is this a truer statement than that of Greece.
The past shapes the present and can never be ignored. Sofka helps us to understand why present day Greece is the way she is - and how outside powers have excerted so much influence over this region.

Thank you for a very intelligent read.
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on 19 August 2014
Once I started reading I couldn't put it down.
I didn't realise how turbulant a recent history Greece has. Not only did this book provide a fascinating glimpse of Greek history but the story that was wrapped around this time was very moving with believable characters. I also liked that Greece's currentish (2008) problems are referenced with two of the younger characters which shows the volatile and cyclical nature of Greek politics
Recommended.
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on 19 March 2013
This is a skilfully written novel by a highly talented author. Her prose is a delight to read and her story is powerful, gripping and meticulously researched. Anyone who is familiar with Athens will immediately recognise the sights, smells and sounds she describes so well. Those who are new to the city and its recent history will find it a fascinating insight into a country which many know only as a tourist destination. I do hope there will be many more books about the author's adopted homeland. Having finished both this and 'Eurydice Street', I feel bereft. The next budget flight to Athens will be dreary indeed!
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on 3 March 2014
A beautifully written novel that both compels and intrigues. The historical side is fascinating and Sofka cleverly weaves the story together, moving between two different characters from different backgrounds who are ultimately fighting on the same side. The complexities of the past and present come together in a moving, soulful novel that comes straight from the heart.
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on 30 April 2012
This is a great book which I found difficult to put down. It is meticulously researched and gives the reader a real insight into modern Greek history, in a way that is totally accessible. The characters are well drawn and make you care about what happens to them. For me, it works beautifully as a novel, but also serves as a piece of social history. Made me want to find out more about modern Greece, and to a large extent explains much of what is happening there today. I wish I hadn't read it so quickly, as I'd like to be starting again from the beginning. I'll have to give it a few months before reading again though! If you appreciate an intelligent and beautifully crafted novel, this one is for you!
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on 2 December 2012
The professional reviewer John Humphrys decribes this book as timely, something I would endorse quite emphatically. Outside Greece itself not enough people know of the horrors of the Greek civil war that so divided families and which followed the trauma of some four years of Nazi occupation. But it is timely also in the sense that it appears at a moment of national crisis as Greece confronts the economic constraints imposed by "The Troika" - The European Commission, The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. Such is the austerity, such are the repercussions on the people of Greece, that the resulting protests point to the fault lines that once divided Greece into opposing camps. The present corrupt politicians become stooges of a "nazified" Angela Merkel, policemen attack and kill a 15yr old schoolboy while the suicides of a pharmacist and a teacher become a method of public protest. Perceptions have once again become polarized with Athens out of control in December 2008 and liable at any time to return to more chaos.

"The House on Paradise Street" is a novel about historical events that divided the lives of two sisters : Alexandra and Antigone. Brought up in Athens enjoying a middle class background, their paths diverged sharply during the German occupation. Antigone gets drawn into the resistance movement while her elder sister forms a relationship and eventually marries Spiros Koftas, a policeman and Nazi collaborator.

This is far from the full story. This novel is extremely cleverly put together and is seen through the eyes of Antigone and Maud, an English anthropologist who falls in love and marries Antigone's son Nikitas. This son, born in prison, had been left behind in Greece when Antigone escaped to Russia to be brought up by his Uncle and Aunt, so opposed to his mother's ideals.

Even this outline is incomplete but I would be breaking the golden rule of Amazon reviewing if I were to reveal more of this heart-rending story. It is a tale full of moral choices, agonizing decisions that lead to quite extreme experiences. It is the author's ingenuity to ensure the different paths taken by the two sisters recross and that finally a form of reconciliation takes place.

The plot is faultless - quite excellent - and the construction of the novel, anything but chronological, where chapters written in the first person singular are devoted to either Maud or Antigone, is successfully stratified, like geological formations. What seemed less assured was the characterization of these two very different women. Their points of view, likes and dislikes were certainly distinct enough, but the manner in which they express themselves were too similar to be completely credible.

Be that as it may, this novel is a delightful - if at times harassing - read. It is violently anti-war, as complete in its descriptions of the atrocities committed by one side as by the other. Zinovieff is handing out no favours and has no favorites ! Instead she leans towards the hope that future generations do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past. The last chapter reveals Antigone telling her grand-daughter "The past is done and there is nothing we can do to change it. But now it's different, you can leave all that behind. You own the future". That is, I am sure, the message of comfort that Zinovieff wishes to convey in these troubled times.
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on 1 February 2015
I learned so much from this novel - found it fascinating, and very sad and disturbing in places. It reveals modern Greece in all its complexity and I am full of admiration for the way the author wove the stories together. I will read her other books when I have time.
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on 19 August 2012
I really enjoyed the House on Paradise Street. It's such a page turner and I would reccomend it to anybody. Not only was it a fantastic story but also very informative on Greek history. Being a greek-english student myself, I was fascinated to find out so much about Greece and see how its past is so linked with the present. The author is so talented at capturing the very real emotions of each character, provoking both laughter and tears in the reader.
I have just started her first book Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens, and am already enjoying it. To cut a long story short, if you have any interest in Greece and you want to understand the crisis on a more personal level, then I would reccomend this book. Fantastic read.
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on 31 July 2013
This beautifully-crafted novel at times made uncomfortable reading, but not once did I want to put it down. Its dark themes reflect the blackest of times in Greece's history and bring into focus the malaise brought about by years of occupation, civil war and political meddling from abroad, which ripped families apart and have left deep scars on this tiny piece of Paradise. This extraordinary, thought-provoking book has given me a much deeper understanding of Greece and its wonderful people, for which I will always be grateful. Richard Clark
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on 3 December 2013
Sofka Zinovieff is the perfect writer of a book based on fact and based in Greece.

We are there with her. We understand the Greek characters that she describes. We feel the feelings.

A wonderful book and as collectable as " Euradice Street " her previous book

Trish Niblock
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