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The Clover House: A Novel Paperback – April 2, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A powerful story of family, betrayal, and forgiveness, The Clover House is set in Greece during WWII and at present-day Carnival. To escape her Greek heritage and the mother whose love she always sought, Calliope Notaris Brown Americanizes her name to Callie. But when her uncle, Nestor, dies, leaving the contents of his house to his favorite niece, Callie must return to Greece to sort through all that Nestor has hoarded and to face her estranged mother, Clio. Arriving as Carnival begins, Callie is swept up in the wild abandon and the attentions of a young man, further threatening a troubled relationship with her fiancé in Boston. Callie avoids her problems by digging through her uncle’s possessions, unearthing the story of a young Clio in the Italian-occupied Greece of the 1940s. As she pieces together her mother’s past, Callie discovers herself in the process and reveals a family secret that Nestor wanted her to find all along. In her first novel, Power melds the stories of mother and daughter into an absorbing tale that deserves to rank high on the list of women’s fiction. --Diane Holcomb

Review

The Clover House is a gripping, tender story that spans continents and generations as it delves into the secrets of a Greek American family altered by a long-ago tragedy in World War II. Told with quiet power and authenticity, it’s a reader’s treat.”—Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
 
“[A] stunning debut novel.”—USA Today
 
“[An] insightful examination of memory and the stories that hold us together—or perhaps tear us apart.”—The Boston Globe

“A rare treat: an elegantly written debut about a family mystery set during wartime, the slipperiness of memory, and the challenges of forgiveness. Plus, we get to go to Greece! What more could you want from a novel? Read it, read it!”—Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
 
“A powerful story of family, betrayal, and forgiveness . . . In her first novel, Power melds the stories of mother and daughter into an absorbing tale that deserves to rank high on the list of women’s fiction.”—Booklist
 
“Layered and complex, The Clover House is a provocative examination of family secrets and the things we inherit, a powerful search for self that feels both unique and universal. Henriette Lazaridis Power immerses the reader in a world of tradition and resilience, creating characters who linger long beyond their final pages. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.”—Brunonia Barry, New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places
 
“Well-paced and filled with likable, plausibly flawed characters.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
The Clover House is a tremendously readable story of how family secrets reverberate, how war can force impossible choices, and how a very modern woman faces old longings for her mother’s love and a true home. This is a smart and lovely novel.”—Holly Lecraw, author of The Swimming Pool

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345530683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345530684
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henriette Lazaridis Power is a Greek/American writer, though you wouldn't know it from her name. Henriette comes from her Swiss grandmother who married in Greece and never looked back. Lazaridis comes from her parents, who left Greece in '58, looking back and going back constantly. Eleni is her original middle name, but she dropped it when she added her husband's Irish Power, since her initials wouldn't have been very promising.

Power has degrees in English literature from Middlebury College; Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar; and the University of Pennsylvania. She taught at Harvard for ten years, serving as an academic dean for four of those.

Her work has appeared in a range of publications including Salamander, the New England Review, The Millions, The New York Times online, and Narrative Magazine. She has been awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist's Grant, and has been a finalist in the Glimmertrain short fiction contest and the William Faulkner/William Wisdom Novel-in-Progress competition. She is the founding editor of The Drum, an online literary magazine publishing short fiction and essays exclusively in audio form.

A competitive rower, Power has worked as a rowing coach for Community Rowing in Boston, and trains regularly on the Charles River in Boston.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Avid Mystery Reader VINE VOICE on July 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This story is about an immigrant family who settle in Boston. The daughter is trying to figure out how come the mother is like she is. The mother never adjusted and was never happy with her American life and eventually goes back to Greece. The daughter winds up going to Greece when she is left an inheritance by her uncle. The story evolves from there and even when the daughter finds out while the mother is like she is, there is still no joy or light in this story. Add in adult themes, sex, and language and the read just was too dark for my liking. I found it stiffing and depressive. When I read I want to escape problems, not have more thrust upon me. This book is definitely not on my recommendation list.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. Green VINE VOICE on March 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...but somewhere within the book's first hundred pages, shouldn't I have felt the need and desire to keep reading? Did I stop too soon? I'll never know, for I closed the book and moved onto something else. I'm growing tired of books being compared to others I've read and thoroughly enjoyed. This book is not the reading experience that was "Sarah's Key" nor should it be compared to it. Maybe other readers decided to stick it out and were pleasantly surprised with this reading experience. I just feel there are too many books out there to read to then spend time with something I'm just not enjoying. Sorry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany A. Harkleroad VINE VOICE on April 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
Cali receives word that her uncle in Greece has died, and left a large portion of his estate contents to her. She decides to travel to Greece to sort through his belongings. Along the way, she confronts ghosts from her family's past, and learns a long buried secret that has impacted her life without her knowledge.

I really struggled with this book. Like so many books these days, the story has duel timelines, one set in present day, and one set in the 40s. In present day, Cali is dealing with a fear of commitment, brought about by her memories of her parents' acrimonious marriage. She runs off to Greece, under the guise of dealing with her uncle's estate. The storyline then focuses on this huge family secret that her uncle apparently wanted her to uncover, thus the reason he leaves his estate contents to her. I found the story to really plod along, both the past storyline and the present storyline. I felt like the two stories never really met up. And by the time we learned what this big family secret was, I found I no longer cared. There was so much drama and buildup, the reveal ended up being lackluster.

The characters were also somewhat blah. The only character I found to have real depth was Clio, Cali's mother. However, she was such a nasty character, I really did not like reading about her. None of the characters really engaged me in the story. Perhaps if I were Greek, I would have felt more connected to this story. There was a great emphasis on Greek culture, without any real explanation of it, so once again, I found myself unable to connect.

All in all, I was just pretty disappointed with the book. It never clicked with me, and I really did not feel like I gained anything by reading it.

I received a review copy of the book courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
THE CLOVER HOUSE is basically a tale of the emotional dynamics currently at work in the life of Calliope (Callie) Brown, a first generation Greek-American living in Boston with her fiancé Jonah, a man seeking and not receiving some sort of emotional commitment from Callie. What drives this woman to resist giving unconditional love? It would appear that many of Callie's problems are due in large part to the strained relationship she has with her mother Clio, a woman who continues to keep herself physically and emotionally removed from her sisters as well as her daughter, for reasons known only to her.

Following the death of her husband, Clio returned to Greece. Now Callie has received word via a cousin (why didn't her mother call her with the news?) that her Uncle Nestor has died and left his "collected treasures" to her. Sensing that her mother is attempting to keep her away and that there is something in her uncle's belongings that may shed some light on the questions concerning her relationship with her mother, Callie leaves Boston for Greece and hopefully the answers that will free her from her nebulous existence.

It is Carnival when Callie arrives in Patras, a time for carefree abandon with no thought as to consequences and, like her mother before her, Callie's insecurities lead this lost soul down a path of questionable decisions and choices. To be completely candid, there are not very many truly likeable characters in this book, except for the dearly departed Uncle Nestor, and most of the cast seems to be living life according to the AA code - "one day at a time".

Vacillating back and forth in time between Greece in the late 1930's and early 1940's to Boston and Patras, Greece 2000, the novel lays out the story of a family in turmoil over it's hidden past and a young woman whose past and future continue to be impacted by the consequences of that long held family secret. So much angst over so little!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Anderson VINE VOICE on May 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
Calliope "Callie" Brown, a first-generation Greek-American living in Boston, is shocked when she receives a phone call from her cousin notifying her of their uncle Nestor's death, and that she has been named heiress of all his worldly goods. At first uninterested in claiming the unexpected bequest, Callie's interest is piqued when her estranged mother Clio, who returned to her Greek homeland following the death of Callie's father, makes a rare call in an blatant attempt to dissuade Callie from fulfilling her uncle's dying wish. Eager to escape her commitment-ready boyfriend, Callie makes arrangements to journey to Patras, Greece, determined to discover a clue among her uncle's possessions to her own thorny relationship with her mother. As a child, Callie was captivated by her mother's stories of growing up in Greece, stories that painted an almost idyllic portrait of life in a world that was, in actuality, riddled by conflict. But her mother's stories are the only truth Callie knows, a truth she stubbornly clings to in the face of familial discord and her own increasingly fractured life. The deeper Callie delves into her uncle's treasures, the closer she comes to uncovering truths about her mother and family that threaten to fracture already-fragile bonds, unless those involved choose to accept Nestor's final bequests -- the light of truth and the balm of forgiveness.

The Clover House possesses a fascinating premise -- combining Callie's contemporary search for meaning and identity with stories from her mother's childhood, Power spins a highly-relatable tale of tension-fraught parent-child relationships peppered with the fascinating (and arguably generally un-studied) history of Greece during and after the second World War.
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