By Karen McLeod
It’s your castle, your plot of land. It’s where you hang your hat. Home. In Stella Leventoyannis Harvey’s new novel, Finding Callidora, home means this and more to the four generations of the Greek Alevizopoulos family.
The prologue, an enchanting moment in the present, hazily answers the question that arises from the title: who, or where, is Callidora? But that doesn’t take away from the suspense, which could be difficult to maintain in a novel spanning 100 years. Instead, as the family members are scattered during wartime, and as successive generations move south to Egypt or north to Canada, the prologue acts like the needle of a compass, always pointing home.
Leventoyannis made further wise choices with structure that keep the story flowing, that keep you from falling through gaps of time. First, it is refreshingly chronological. And then, most of the chapters begin with an authentic newspaper headline of the times. The headlines serve the story in two ways. One, to provide a political backdrop to the family saga, and two, to inform the reader how much time has passed between chapters.
The story begins in 1918 and seventeen-year-old Katarina has slipped out of her bedroom at night yet again. Her mother, Callidora, is glad the war is over and sons Vasilis and Nikos will be home soon. Katarina heeds her brothers. But a betrayal scatters the siblings. Katarina makes a choice that has disastrous results for her home, and Vasilis decides to create a home for himself elsewhere. Nikos, a major in the army, is haunted by his failure to help a woman and her child, and his sense of responsibility makes returning home less simple than it sounds.
For siblings Nikos, Vasilis and Katarina, the principal characters in Finding Callidora, and for their children, and their children’s children, whether home is a place to stay, leave or find, the universal trait about home is that feeling of belonging: “Everyone needs to be grounded and to know where they belong.”
Stella Leventoyannis Harvey will be launching her new book, Finding Callidora at the 2019 Whistler Writers Festival on Thursday, October 17th at 6:30 p.m. Join us for a taste of Greek treats by chef Christina Loucas, of popular food blog Aphrodite’s Kitchen, and have your copy of Finding Callidora signed by Stella. The event is free to attend but please secure your tickets at www.whistlerwritersfest.com
Karen McLeod lives in Whistler and writes one-act plays, short stories and book reviews.