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The Secret SisterAnd the couple eventually settles in New York They bestow on their only daughter the haunted name of her departed aunt but the burden of family history ultimately destroys Frosso and compels her son Jonathan to uncover the shadowy history of the Argyriou family Fotini Tsalikoglou’s poetic atmospheric novel explores the blurred line between history and memory Psychologically complex and deeply moving The Secret Sister is a brilliant mediation on the irrepressible need for people to tell storie. In January 2013 Jonathan Argyriou a Manhattan born third generation Greek American boards a plane in New York for Athens Jonathan is travelling to Greece to learn about his family He was brought up by his grandparents and his alcoholic mother and he doesn’t uite understand the relationship between his grandmother’s younger sister and his grandfather Jonathan converses with his sister Amalia imagining she is occupying the empty seat next to him We thus learn of the tragedies faced by the Argyriou family Their ruin had begun during the 1922 Greco Turkish War when two orphaned sisters little Erasmia and Frosso had to flee Smyrna village for Athens While Erasmia eventually manages to reach America Frosso does not By the time the planes reaches Athens from his soul searching and brainstorming with his sister past memories flood back to Jonathan such that he himself recollects a good deal of his ancestryAs noted on this book’s cover Fortini Tsalikoglou’s novel indeed “explores the blurred line between history and memory” While the short length of the novel does not permit detailed character development the stream of consciousness writing style admirably fleshes out the story Some readers might uestion Jonathan’s motive in embarking on such a long journey of discovery; however it is his psychological frame of mind muddled by family secrets that Tsalikoglou portrays as one from which he cannot escape Similar to Faulkner’s famous uote Tsalikoglou notes “The past is never over It isn’t even past” Nevertheless the narrative is not an easy read and were it not for the book’s evocative cover and the informative flap and back cover text the plot would take a huge effort to comprehendThis review first appeared in the HNR magazine issue 73 August 2015

Fotini Tsalikoglou ✓ 5 Summary

Nly each other to rely on as they scrape together a life in the immigrant slums around Athens Eighteen years later Europe is stewing and Erasmia is offered a chance for a new life in America by her fiancé Menelaos Compelled to leave by the impending war Erasmia boards the ship “New Greece” with a heavy heart but before the ship reaches harbor her grief takes hold and Erasmia throws herself into the ocean A forlorn Meneloas returns to Greece and marries his beloved’s younger sister Frosso. Tells an important story and I learnt a lot from the footnotes especially Without meaning to go for the easy option and criticising the plot I found it a bit underwhelming what I assume was supposed to be a big reveal was extremely predictable from the beginning and I also struggled with parts of the delivery nothing wrong in fact would have loved a convincing book about fraternal love however it was just stated over and over without much backing I did like the grandparents' story a lot and thought that was well done and I also thought the feeling of someone being so affected by wider forces that they just wish for normality or for the 'little dream' was very good I'd have liked to have been transported to Greece a bit I think but I did appreciate the linguistic folkloristic and traditional subtleties

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review · The Secret Sister ê PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ´ The past isn’t over It isn’t even past For Jonathan a third generation Greek American who has never set foot in his ancestral homeland a journey to crisis ridden contemporary Greece will unleash a century of buried family secrets From the burningThe past isn’t over It isn’t even past For Jonathan a third generation Greek American who has never set foot in his ancestral homeland a journey to crisis ridden contemporary Greece will unleash a century of buried family secrets From the burning uay at Smyrna to present day Manhattan the Argyriou family has been pursued by disaster In the 1922 Greco Turkish War little Frosso and her sister Erasmia flee as Turkish soldiers descend on their village Orphaned and destitute the two girls have o. Four stars to this uick melancholy memoir type of a read Jonathan reminisces about his family as he is on the last flight from New York to Greece A family history of dislocation both geographically and personally Diasporaed from Smyrna the sisters and their progeny never recover from the violence of that removal Generations damaged Still in the old people remnants of the Turkish languages meshed within each other There may be hope for our Jonathan as he lands in Greece knowing that he has literally and figuratively been totally disconnected from his past I recommend this as a companion to either The Sunrise or The Thread by Victoria Hislop