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The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir Paperback – June 6, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Memoir
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074324771X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743247719
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this feast for all senses, Stone brings readers into the tiny Greek island world of Patmos in a prose that feels as languid as the pace of the Patmian people. At 33, Stone, a Broadway stage manager, puts $10,000 of an inheritance in the stock market and leaves New York for what he intends to be a five-month stay in Greece, where he would fulfill his dream of writing a novel. But five months quickly turns into love, marriage, two children and several years when he meets Danielle, a 23-year-old French painter. After moving to Rethymnon, Stone teaches English as a second language while Danielle continues to paint until an old Patmian friend, Theologos, phones and invites Stone to become his partner for the summer in his beach taverna, The Beautiful Helen. Leaping at the opportunity, Stone, and a very reluctant Danielle, pack up their two children, a Cuisinart and Stone's many recipes, and return to the island where they fell in love and where they would soon learn the hard lessons that come with Greek traditions, bargaining, the ever-present Evil Eye, and their naive trust in Theologos, known to all as O Lados, "the oily one." This nicely told memoir and travelogue is interspersed with Stone's recipes, sensual descriptions of food and place, and the love of his wife and children.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Patmos, the small Greek island where St. John lived and wrote, is the setting of this brief but charming autobiographical travelog with recipes. Stone (Greece: An Illustrated History) is in love with Patmos, most of the people who live there, and especially his French-born wife, Danielle, whom he met and married there. One summer, when asked to take over a friend's restaurant at the height of the summer tourist season, Stone was able to turn his cooking avocation into a real job. In this bittersweet memoir, he recounts the reality of working from early in the morning to late at night, with almost no time for friends and family which ultimately forced him to reconsider the allure of his dream island and start thinking about how to live his life in the future. Stone also relates the seesawing friendship between himself and the taverna owner, an old friend who cheated him of thousands of dollars. Although written in the genre of Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes, this down-to-earth travelog certainly does not present a vacation world viewed through rose-colored glasses. Recommended for larger travel as well as cooking collections. Olga B. Wise, Compaq Computer Corp., Austin, TX
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

TOM STONE has pursued a multi-faceted career as a novelist, travel writer, historian, and stage- and screenplay writer. Simultaneously, he had a very successful stint in the professional theater as a director, lighting designer, and stage manager.

In his early years, he devoured the myths of Greece and Norway. Later, he snapped up related books by Edith Hamilton, Robert Graves, Mary Renault, Lawrence Durrell, Nikos Kazantzakis and Joseph Campbell--among many, many others.

After graduating from Yale, where he gained a BA in English Literature and an addiction to the theater, he was able to first visit Greece as an assistant stage manager for Jerome Robbins' ballet company. He spent the next decade working as a stage manager and assistant director for Jerome Robbins and Harold Prince on the original productions of "She Loves Me," "Funny Girl," "Fiddler On The Roof," and "Cabaret" as well as the now-legendary efforts of Robbins' American Theatre Laboratory.

In 1969, he took a sabbatical from Broadway with the intention of spending a single summer on one of the islands writing a novel. Instead, he stayed twenty-two years, principally on the islands of Patmos and Crete and near the mainland capital of northern Greece, Thessaloniki. In the process, he became a father of two, a teacher of English and Theater at Anatolia College in Northern Greece, and a lighting designer and director for the Greek National Theater.

While in Greece, he wrote and published his first novel, "Armstrong," and numerous books and articles about living abroad. These include "The Essential Greek Handbook," "Greece: An Illustrated History," "Patmos: A History and Guide," and "The Greek Food & Drink Book."

In 1992, with his children in U.S. universities and his marriage moribund, he accept an offer by Harold Prince to become the Resident Director in London of Mr. Prince's new, Broadway-bound musical. "The Kiss of the Spider Woman." Subsequently, Mr. Stone directed the London company, starring Bebe Neuwirth. Shortly afterwards, he directed the German-language version in Vienna.

Upon returning to New York, Mr. Stone put Brian Stokes Mitchell into the cast of "Spider Woman" and then worked for a season with the Circle Repertory Company as casting director and stage manager. But breaking back into the theater proved to be impossible after so many years. When one of Mr. Stone's short stories was optioned for a TV movie, he headed west. He has since written eight film scripts for hire, but as of this writing, none have been produced.

He has now returned to teaching English as a Second Language in the adult school system of Los Angeles, and to occasionally lecturing on Greek history with Pierce College. Meanwhile, he is devoting most of his time to writing books.

His memoir of living on Patmos, "The Summer of My Greek Tavérna," was published by Simon & Schuster in 2002 and was selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club and Quality Paperback Club in 2003. It has been translated into ten languages, including Dutch, German, Danish, Hebrew, and Mandarin (Taiwan). It will soon be published in Greek, Russian, and Latvian. In 2013, it was optioned by Fox Searchlight Pictures for a feature film. Unfortunately, the option lapsed 18 months later with nothing accomplished.

In response, Tom has decided to try a spec screenplay on his own, having already had eight of his efforts in that field optioned - but again, not yet produced. But that's par for the course and nothing to lose sleep over.

In February, 2008, Tom published "Zeus: A Journey Through Greece in the Footsteps of a God"(Bloomsbury). It became a Main Selection of the History Book Club and the QPBC, and this led to his on-going appearances in three segments of the History Channel's series on mythology, "The Clash of the Gods."

His latest effort is "The Curse of the Minotaur: An Annotated Tale of Ancient Greece." As with all his books, Stone writes to both entertain and inform, and this action-packed adventure is appended by a large number end notes, images, and maps explaining the historical and mythological background of this timeless and fascinating story.

Currently he is preparing a second edition of "Zeus" as an e-book. It will offer updated information based on recent archaeological discoveries, many more maps as well as images.


He lives in Los Angeles with his lovely wife, Fárzaneh. His website and contact e-mail address are at http://tomstone-gr.com/.

Customer Reviews

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It's the real thing says someone who's been there, done that and is still there.
"creighton@ath.forthnet.gr"
For cooking afiocionadoes, Stone supplies you with detailed recipes of each of the dishes served at The Beautiful Helen that summer.
LT Gebo
Very well written, a great read will make a great movie, enjoyed it very much, will search for other books by this author!
Alia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Graecus Antiqus on January 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a Greek-American who was born, and lives in the US, but also lived in Greece for 12 years, I am always very interested in reading the experiences of expatriates, especially those from the US. I took some time to read through the other reviews here, especially focusing on the ones with negative things to say. I must say this, because I like to keep my reviews brief: Tom Stone did not produce the perfect book here, nor do I think we should expect that from him---what he did do was absolutely capture both the Greek mentality and spirit, the beauty of the land and its culture, and the very difficult divide in which foreigners who live in Greece full-time find themselves. I highly recommend this book not just for Greek diaspora who want to wax nostalgic of the mother country, but for ANY American heading over for a visit, if not a longer stay. I recently recommended this book to two proteges of mine who were headed to Greece for a short stay, and a semester abroad respectively, and both told me upon their returns that it was a priceless learning tool which enhanced their visits, as well as a very enjoyable read. I cant think of any higher recommendation than that of didacticism and real world, in-country experience. Well done, Mr Stone!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I approached this book on a travel writing level where you would read Lawrense Durrell and Henry Miller books about Greece. I did experience this in addition to a great story about finding (and losing) your life-long dreams.
As recorded in the brief summary above, the book follows the author's adventure one summer trying to run a Greek taverna on the Agean island of Patmos. The book recounts how the author set up shop, ran it daily with his dubious Greek partner, and finally discovered what his dream really meant to him. The narrative seems to take place before Patmos become a hot tourist location (before 1990), yet Tom Stone doesn't reveal any dates. The author's page revelas that Tom no longer lives in Greece, but in Southern California.
The book is light reading (probably take 2 hours of reading...after all it is only 199 pages) -- it includes with some folklore about the island (much revolving around St. John's visit in the first century). The recipies printed in the appendix are a nice touch, especially for those wanting to indulge in the culinary experience.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By LT Gebo on July 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Stone's love story of running a Greek Taverna over the course of one summer is a gem. Rarely have I read a book that has engulfed me in its essence and put me in the middle of the narrative. I particularly took to the book because reading Stone's words I became completely engrossed with the many similarities I myself have encountered when spending my summers in Greece.
Stone's lush descriptions of the island of Patmos allow you to travel there instantly, him supplying you with the sights, sounds, and the smell of each moment in time. Paragraphs such as "There are places that seem to be waiting for you out there somewhere, like unmet lovers, and when (and if) you come upon them, you know, instantly and unquestioningly, that they are the ones. It is as if, far back in time, there had been an intimate connection to that very spot or person. So it was with Livadi. Even from as far away as the deck of the Mimeka, it had been love at first sight. I knew that there I would find not simply a house to rent but a place to belong to. Like Odysseus, I felt as if I were coming home to Ithaca after a long voyage through the troubled waters of foreign lands (including my birthplace) whose languages I had never really understood. [...] And it still amazes me to think that at that very moment, on another part of Patmos, in a little house on a cove that I had passed on the road to Livadi, the future mother of my children was sittting on her terrace pondering, as I was, what she was really going to do with her life now that she had finally gotten here."
Words like these are simply candy for the eyes and the heart. It allows you to be captured by the warmth, and the true essence of the author's passion for life.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Reading these little expat memoirs used to be a pleasure, but now there are so many self-congratulatory accounts that they've long since begun to pall. Greek Taverna is a welcome exception. Stone manages to convey the essence of Greek island life, geography, and ambience without attempting to convince the reader that life in those parts is idyllic and carefree. Indeed, Tom and his family encounter as many problems and stumbling blocks as they might have in NYC, as well as enjoying the beauty and simplicity (all is relative). Reading his experiences is as refreshing as a dip in the Aegean. Bravo to Tom Stone for his honesty, sense of humor, and willingness to remain in Greece despite the bursting of the bubble of his dream.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By KC on September 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Philhellene hungry for true accounts of expat lives in Greece, and an expat myself living in Greece, I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, I struggled many times with its irrelevant details and sometimes boring passages, which caused me to put it down frequently.

Unless you know or like Patmos already, it's difficult to envision some landscapes because either the details provided were too limp or simply tried too hard to paint a picture in my head where my imagination might have done better with fewer but vivid descriptions.

I was also disappointed with simple editing/writing mistakes that Stone and his editor made such as using too many Greek words (spelled phonetically, not true to Greek) and then giving the English translation afterward. A person, like myself and many others, who know both Greek and English can find it annoying to have the same thing repeated twice. It's a beginner's mistake from Strunk and White's rules.

If I could get over the poor editing and lifeless passages, I found a gem of a story that could have shined brilliantly with the right organization, concise adjectives and characters that came more to life. I do admire Thoma for his motivation, intention and courage to make his dreams come true. I do believe he is a good storyteller, as the author says he is in the book. I do believe this could have been a great memoir.

Please don't hate me for writing this review, but I'm being honest by presenting the good and the bad. A better memoir is "The Sailor's Wife" by Helen Benedict or Katherine Kizlos' "The Olive Grove."
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