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A House in Corfu: A Family's Sojourn in Greece Hardcover – February 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080506897X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805068979
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,288,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tennant, a London-based author (Sylvia and Ted), offers a delightful memoir of the years she spent visiting her parents' home on the Greek island of Corfu. During a vacation, Tennant's parents, then in late middle-age, became captivated by a remote area on the West Coast of the island. They bought a parcel of land above the bay where Odysseus is said to have been shipwrecked and built Rovinia, a house inaccessible by road; during the winters, rough waters made it impossible to reach the nearest harbor by boat. But isolation was precisely what her mother and father craved. Originally Rovinia was conceived as a vacation home, but in 1965, Tennant's parents gave up their London home and moved to Corfu permanently. Tennant details the problems with the actual construction of the house and the difficulties in securing an adequate water supply. As a frequent visitor, Tennant had her own room, and she came to know the island intimately. She eloquently renders the stark beauty of the landscape, the seductive, treacherous sea, the delicious cuisine (the family employed a local cook) and her family's friendships with local residents whose customs the newcomers came to understand and respect. Steeped in myth, Corfu remained virtually untouched for generations. On later visits, Tennant observed the changes wrought by the Greek military coup and increased tourism. Tennant's father died on Corfu in 1983, but Rovinia is still a beloved refuge for family members. This account of an alternative lifestyle undertaken before modern pop culture had reached all corners of the earth will appeal to travelers, expatriates and their admirers. Photos not seen by PW.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

How the popular novelist's parents built a house in Rovinia, above the bay in Corfu where Ulysses was reputedly shipwrecked.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Lewis on July 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was amazed by the negative review another reader gave this lovely book. I would guess that most of us who like to read about a life spent in the sun, do not expect, or want, an action-packed plot! The whole point of living a Meditteranean idyll, where one day slips lazily into another, is that not a lot happens. Or not the kind of things that we would all hate to confront in real life, such as police car chases, broken hearts, or other major dramas. What we want is to be transported to another world and to imagine ourselves there. This book is about being happy - never easy to portray, but Emma Tennant has succeeded. It made me feel a great deal happier than I was before I picked it up. It is also beautifully written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kisane on May 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
I love travel books especially books that guide you through life in the Mediterranean - Greece, Italy, south of France. The last book I read on Greece was also my first introduction to the delights of armchair travels; the incomparable My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. At age 13, I wanted to move there immediately, never mind that both my parents were in the civil service in Singapore. Durrell's books became my yardstick for travel books ever since. And Tennant's, sorry to say, disappointed. It was boring, superficial and totally lacking in any insight into Corfoit customs, the people and island life. Not surprisingly as Tennant spent only a couple of months a year on that island while she made a life for herself and young family in London. She wrote as a tourist, not a Corfoit islander. However had she ghost-written a book with her parents who had moved to Rovinia to retire, I think it would have been a more interesting read. As it is, this paperback earns a "Read only if there's nothing left on your bookshelf" award.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alekos on October 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy reading books on Greece so I buy a lot of them. This one was a disappointment. I have to agree with the reviewer (above) who says it is a waste of time. It is one of those books that lament the advent of mass tourism and infrastructure development, and I suppose these inevitable changes deserve lamenting in several senses, but other writers have done it so much better. Maybe the first and last chapters could be recommended but the rest is boring. None of the characters come alive and none of the real issues they face are made as clear as they should be. All the people (tourists and locals) seem to do is drive around looking at the mountains and eat... and they all eat too much.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Haydon on July 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A House In Corfu made me long to go at once and savour the tastes, smells and colours so wonderfully described in Emma Tennant's book. Her tales of locals, family and the glorious blue sky and sea had me wanting more as soon as I finished it.
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19 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Wells on February 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used to live on Corfu (and it's an island; therefore, it's "on" Corfu, not "in" Corfu!) and first stayed there about 2 years after the author first set foot on Corfu. I have been going back there ever since. This book is a terrible disappointment if one is looking for plot, character development, reader involvement, etc. However, it's wonderful if one is an architect, a civil engineer, and/or a horticulturist. This is the first book I have bought in a long time where I wanted my money back! I found myself skipping page after page after page, in sheer boredom. One can read about lovely flowers and sea only for so long. After that, it would be nice to know a little bit about the society, the politics, the people, etc., of which we get precious little in this book. A horrendous waste of time. And if I felt that way and know (and love!) the place well,...I can't imagine what a reader who has never been there would think. A great soporific. Please, don't waste your time.
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