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on 25 November 2014
Very well written
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on 12 July 2013
A truly wonderful and uplifting book. As someone who spends 6 months of the year living in one of the villages Marjory writes of. I am a wiser and better informed person as a result of this book. The style and wit is truly riveting and should be made compulsive reading for all ex pats, and visitors to the Mani.
Fantastic, can't wait for year two.
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on 26 July 2016
This book by Marjorie, the first in an enchanting three book series, is funny, informative and interesting. A really enjoyable memoir about a couple's stay in a remote village in the Marni Pelapponese region of Greece.

Marjory and her husband Jim, both journalists whose jobs in Scotland were affected by the newspaper industry upheaval in the UK, arrive in Greece planning to spend maybe an adventurous year or so in the country documenting their adventures. They bring with them their lovable but mad Jack Russell Wallace, who ends up having quite a few hair-raising adventures of his own in a country where dogs are not generally kept as pets and are barely tolerated except largely in a functioning role of guarding their owners' properties. Wallace somehow becomes accepted or by the villagers who give him a new name of 'Vassy'.

Marjory and Jim, or rather Margarita and Dimitrios as they are renamed by the locals, immerse themselves in village life, make friends and in time become accepted members of the community. Life is hard for the villagers and more so in the Greek crisis. The background to the crisis is explained in an informative way and I learned much more about the history and circumstances behind it. Having spent time in Greece on holiday and more recently in Athens, I was aware of the crisis but not as fully informed as I'd like to be, but a lot more of what we witnessed makes much more sense after reading this book.

Marjorie makes friends with an indomitable lady called Foteini who features in many anecdotes and adventures. Foteini looks after her olive trees and keeps a few goats and a donkey in a hillside dwelling, she also has a village house in a state of some disrepair that's hardly used. Their friendship is real and deep and we learn much about the history and hardships of Greek hill farmers and villagers.

A must read for anyone interested in learning about the real Greece.
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on 2 January 2014
The other reviews do a pretty good job summing up this book, but I'm happy to add my vote of appreciation as I really enjoyed reading Marjory McGinn's account of her year in the Southern Peloponnese with her partner and their Jack Russell dog, Wallace. The Scottish couple met in Australia and Marjory had spent some time in Athens, so had a little Greek to communicate with The Mani villagers where they rented a house for a year. She relates many anecdotes about getting to know the villagers and the locals getting to know them and their dog - anyone who has spent time in Greece knows that village people have very different attitudes to pet dogs, so Wallace's 'Jack Russell ways' are not appreciated by all! The stories are interspersed with useful information about the places they visited in The Mani region, some less well known. It's a good read for any grecophile.
Apparently they stayed on, moving to a different village and a job for her partner working for a travel company for a second year ... so will there be a sequel to look forward to?
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on 18 December 2013
Two journalists and their dog spending a year in the rural and wild southern Peloponnese at the beginning of the Greek economic crisis: A tale full of adventure, warmth, and wit, delving into the heart of the communities in this area.

Helped along by some knowledge of the language, Marjory McGinn together with her partner, makes her home in the village of Megali Mantineia, in Mani "...because it promised soaring temperatures and deserted coves... most of all it was described as untamed and remote, all the better to find colourful characters, raw edges, and even the odd calamity'. It turns out that - against the dark backdrop of Greece's ever-deepening economic crisis - Mani's people, their life and customs, and the expat community, offer them all of the above and more.

Things are not going entirely according to plan, so Marjorie and her partner, Jim, have to deal with a number of surprising matters: scorpions, dustbins, veterinary lab tests, a fishhook, dentists or the lack of them... And they do so with humor and moods that match the fiercely independent and proud community of local Greeks who, in turn, have to deal not only with the demands of a harsh landscape, unforgiving history, and hundreds of years of rebellion against invading foes, but also with increasing austerity measures and a deteriorating economy.

There are plenty of sympathetic and unforgettable descriptions of local characters, interesting background on the area, hilarious escapades as well as moving moments, and insightful observations of the local expats who turn out to be as colourful as the locals. Cultural tensions between Greeks and expats add to the frisson and make this book an interesting read and as independent-minded as those it describes. At a deeper level, the incidents illustrate the author's quest for rootedness: a sort of Odyssey, with the author stopping to learn from and experience different places and characters.

A treat to curl up with by the fire on a cold winter evening, or by the Aegean, on a warm summer's day. Even more, enticing to visit the places it describes. I haven't been to the area, but having read this book I most definitely will visit.

After Marjorie McGinn left Greece to return to Scotland - she meant to be there for a year, but stayed three in the end - the Greek economy continued on its downward slide; I wonder how the people in the villages she describes are faring. At the same time, I know that many from the cities - over three million alone live in Athens - facing unemployment and homelessness, are now moving back to rural Greece, from where their parents came from and where families may still own land. I wonder how this influx - of educated, artistic, cosmopolitan as well as depressed Greeks is going to affect the villages featured in this book. In this case, this book, might become a future reference source about life in `unspoilt' Greece.

A sequel is implied. I hope it materializes; the author owes it to her readers to share with them her account of the other two years of her Greek adventure. I certainly look forward to it!
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on 7 February 2014
This is well written, funny and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Have nearly finished the book and will be sad. Have Marjory written any more books? if not are there books out there that are as well written.
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on 22 September 2013
This planet can get tiresome when every Amazon village, Turkish bazaar and Inuit skidoo is infested with some celebrity or other experiencing staged stunts on our behalf.
It's not that I'm not grateful for their slapping a whole world of culture between two halves of a bap for our easy consumption.
But in an age when it is trendy to talk of global villages and Karl Pilkington, sometimes the palate can get a little too accustomed to stale cheese slices.
So thank God for feta.
And mouldy cow bones and swirling incense and goat turds.
The author does not set out to do more than record a year in rural Greece, but what an engaging escape it is from the sanitised polystyrene of celeb TV travelogues.
Marjory McGinn - with her convivial style and just enough leftfield wit to keep readers on their toes - reminds us that life, language and love can only be richly experienced with boots (and paws) on the ground.
And it's that truth which makes this immensely likeable memoir such compelling reading.
More than simple places and faces, it's a tale of human fears, friendships and foibles against a backdrop of enticing kafenion culture but the disorientation of a fiendish foreign tongue and startlingly alien customs.
The author pulls no punches and yet the book retains a warm optimism and sunny lightness which, I'd imagine, would make it an ideal beach read.
(And, as a sucker for Jack Russells, Wallace's prickly presence is the dog biscuit on the cake for me!)
Did I fall head-over-heels for Greece? Can't say that I did.
But, as all good books do, flipping the final page stirred a restlessness to experience more of the wide world for oneself.
Terrific.
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on 11 April 2014
Have just started to read this book and it appears to b very enjoyable. Having been ,on holidays, in Greece for many many years we know some of our way around but not being Greek, or able to think like Greek people, we are always at a disadvantage .We have never wanted to live there and even though my wife is taking 'O' level Greek ,this year we enjoy just to dip in, and dip out and not forget that we are holidaymakers first, and foremost and not people who like to think they are locals but who merely delude themselves! But the book will be a fine read, I am sure.
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on 23 August 2013
The book was recommended by a friend but I wish I hadn't bothered. Being married to a Greek I live permanently in Greece - though not in the Mani - and I'm always keen to read "personal experience stories". There are many such books (someone christened them "villageography") and though it began promisingly enough, I soon became bored with the "same old, same old" and had to make myself read to the end - just to make sure I hadn't formed an opinion too early.
Though Wallace the dog seems to have been popular with most readers, I became increasingly irritated by each successive chapter which harped on and on about his supposed comic antics and eccentric behaviour. Don't get me wrong, I like dogs. However, I detest yappy barkers. All too often, when trying to enjoy a quiet summer's evening on our balcony, I could cheerfully reach for a shotgun (good job I don't have one) and silence the lot of them! It felt like the book was more about Wallace's time in Mani rather than Marjory and Jim's. In fact the book might more aptly be named "Wallace's Adventures in Maniland", or "Wallace's Travels" .....
Finally coming to what seemed like a rather abrupt ending, I heaved a sigh of relief only to realise that the way it ended left things wide open for a sequel - yawn yawn - I for one will not be interested.
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on 7 April 2016
helps to understand the financial crises in Greece. enjoyed very much and am now reading Homers where the heart is which is the follow on story of the same adventure of the couple and their dog.
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