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Fiction Family Life

Finding Callidora

by (author) Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

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Initial publish date
Oct 2019
Family Life, Literary, Cultural Heritage
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    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
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    Oct 2019
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A horrific betrayal sets the destiny of the Alevizopoulos family, farmers who dare to choose a side, first in the Great War of 1914-1918, then in the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922. Theodore, the patriarch, was given a significant plot of fertile farmland in the Peloponnese for his efforts to fight the Ottomans in the Cretan revolution of 1886-1896. After he dies, it is Callidora, the matriarch, who must protect this legacy, raising her children to ensure the land is passed down from one generation to the next. But will the treacherous schemes of a neighbour ever allow this to happen? Survival might mean leaving what is most precious: home.

Finding Callidora unfolds against multiple backdrops—the unforgiving terrain of the Anatolia, the isolated Greek islands of Naxos and Crete, the bustling, chaotic streets of Cairo and later the vast expanse of Canada. Reflecting the headlines of the day, the novel follows four generations of the Alevizopoulos family, starting with Callidora’s children, Nikos, Vasilis and Katarina. Each will carry and pass on the scars of the original betrayal and their need to find the place where they belong.

About the author

Stella Leventoyannis Harvey was born in Cairo, Egypt and moved to Calgary as a child with her family. In 2001, Stella founded the Whistler Writers Group, also known as the Vicious Circle, which each year produces the Whistler Writers Festival under her direction. Stella is a fiction writer whose short stories have appeared in The Literary Leanings Anthology, The New Orphic Review, Emerge Magazine and The Dalhousie Review. Her non-fiction has appeared in Pique Newsmagazine, The Question and the Globe and Mail. She currently lives with her husband in Whistler, but visits her many relatives in Greece often, indulging her love of Greek food and culture and honing her fluency in the language. Her first novel, Nicolai's Daughters was published in 2012 with the Greek translation published by Psichogios Publications of Athens. Her second novel, The Brink of Freedom was published in 2015.

Stella Leventoyannis Harvey's profile page

Excerpt: Finding Callidora (by (author) Stella Leventoyannis Harvey)

The man says something to her father and points. They are both sitting in the front seat of the car and she leans forward from the back so she can hear them a bit better.

Gi. Land. She understands the word and follows his finger. This land is closer to the sea. There are more olive trees here and in their pale green midst, a house of stone. The roof has collapsed into itself and the stone is muddied, but the structure stands. There is no front door or glass in any of the window frames. Tattered sheets of plastic beat against the sides of the house. It must have been a family home at one time. She sees the oleander bushes dotted in flowers of her favourite colour, fuchsia, and is sure the scent reaches her even at this fleeting distance. Someone must have cared about this home. Once. Once upon a time, she thinks. This is how all her fantasies begin. She has a tendency to romanticize spaces, build stories of hardship and triumph for the characters she makes up. She dreams of reconstructing the shacks she has seen all over this country, restoring them so they can be loved again. She dreams one of these shacks is hers to love again.

“I don’t know why,” the man says. “But that piece of land has always had a name. A woman’s name. I have never changed it.” He turns, takes his eye off the road and looks at her father. “It was the right thing to do.”

She stares at the house.

When the man says the name, she breaks into tears. After all the dead ends, the bureaucracy, and her family’s warnings, she has found it.

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