Read North Of Ithaka by Eleni N. Gage Online


Eleni Gage, a young journalist living in New York, leaves her Manhattan flat to return to the remote but beautiful Greek village of Lia in northern Greece and rebuild her ruined ancestral home. But this is not just another tale of quaint rustic DIY - the house was the scene of imprisonment and torture, and its ruins are stalked by the ghosts of the Greek Civil War.The storEleni Gage, a young journalist living in New York, leaves her Manhattan flat to return to the remote but beautiful Greek village of Lia in northern Greece and rebuild her ruined ancestral home. But this is not just another tale of quaint rustic DIY - the house was the scene of imprisonment and torture, and its ruins are stalked by the ghosts of the Greek Civil War.The story is played out in the stunning mountainous landscape of Epiros, one of the least-visited regions of Europe. As Eleni becomes part of the village, her neighbours and the house come vividly to life while her own disasters, triumphs and self-discoveries are alternately poignant and hilarious. The cast of characters includes Eleni's formidable yet miniscule aunts - the thitsas, who fear that she will be eaten by wolves; her immigrant Albanian builders; and the residents of modern-day Lia, whose feelings about the rebuilding of a house where such terrible events took place are ambivalent at best.Informed by her knowledge of Greece's folklore, literature, language and history, Eleni's story is unfailingly witty and wise. But beneath it all lie the indelible stains of a real-life Greek tragedy....

Title : North Of Ithaka
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781448110056
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

North Of Ithaka Reviews

  • Adam
    2019-01-14 04:11

    I have read the first 125 pages of this book and I am disappointed. I will not read any more of it. It is not a patch on her father's excellent book "Eleni". The author sets out for northern Greece, near to the Albanian border, to reconstruct her family's home that had been destroyed in the Greek Civil War. Her account of this, as far as I managed to read, resembled a Greek version of "A year in Provence" by Peter Mayle, only it was not nearly as well-written. I did not like Ms Gage's writing style, which tried, unsuccessfully in my opinion, to combine jauntiness with watered down anthropological observations. Enough said...

  • Catherine
    2019-01-08 04:03

    This book is about the author returning to the small village in Greece where her grandmother had a home. She decides to restore this home where her grandmother was imprisoned and executed. I really tried to like this book, but I found it tedious, boring and meandering. I did finish the book hoping that I would find an appreciation for this writer's voice, but it just never happened. I can't recommend this book.

  • HeavyReader
    2019-01-20 09:15

    This is the true story of Eleni Gage, a young American woman who spends almost a year in the Greek village where her father was born, overseeing the restoration of her ancestral home. The home had been abandoned for decades after communists used it as a headquarters and a jail in the late 1940s during the Greek civil war. Those same communists executed Gage's grandmother for helping her children escape the village and for (allegedly) hiding treasure. Despite these unhappy circumstances, Gage keeps this memoir fairly upbeat. This book is not a downer. It didn't make me cry. It didn't make me sad.I did get a little tired of Gage's self-doubt. There was more waffling here than in an Eggo factory. She wondered a lot if renovating the house was the right thing to do. Members of her dad's family were upset by her decision to remodel the place of so much pain. But what were the neighbors thinking? Were they upset by her actions too? Of course, Gage never asked because she was afraid of the answer. I'm all for questioning motives and actions, but it just kept going on and on in every chapter. Am I doing the right thing? Am I upsetting people? Should I just quit? If Gage were truly concerned about the feelings of her fellow villagers, perhaps she should have actually discussed those feelings with them and explained her motivation. Instead, she did what she wanted to do without soliciting input, but tried to look good in the eyes of her readers by letting them know she really did (constantly) question whether or not she was doing the right thing.I found two aspects of the book very strange.#1 Gage got the idea to go to Greece and restore the ancestral home "the weekend after Thanksgiving 2001." (For those who may have forgotten, that was less than three months after the September 11 attack on New York City.) At the time, Gage was living in New York City, yet there is not one single mention in this entire book about the September 11th attack. Gage does not mention how the attack influences her decision to leave the U.S. She doesn't mention how the aftermath of the attack made getting her paperwork in order or her actual traveling more more difficult. One could read this book and think the attack of NYC on September 11, 2001 never happened.I lived in the Midwest at the time of the September 11th attack, and folks there couldn't put the attack and related events out of mind for a long time. To New Yorkers, the attack was (understandably) a HUGE deal. It seems strange for a New Yorker to fail to even acknowledge the attack and related events in a book covering the time period from late 2001 through December 2002.#2 Where's the money coming from? Gage mentions (at least twice) that her father (the author Nicholas Gage) is paying for the renovation of the family home. Fair enough. But Eleni Gage has quit her job in NYC to spend almost a year in a tiny Greek village where she never references a paying job. Who bought her plane ticket? Who's paying for her rental car (and its fuel), her Greek cell phone, and the internet access on the new computer she bought in the city? Who's paying for her to eat? Who's paying the expenses for the several side trips she writes about? Is she living off her savings? Is she getting paid for free lance writing she'd doing about her time in Greece? Is she living off the advance she received on the deal for this book? When a twenty-seven-year-old woman spends a year abroad and doesn't mention gainful employment, I think the reader deserves to know how such a thing is possible. The parts of this book I enjoyed most were the ones where Gage explained the cultures of her region of Greece. Although I'm not religious myself, I enjoyed reading about the villagers' Easter preparations. I liked reading about the "Gypsy" wedding. (Isn't the proper term "Roma"? If so, someone should mention that to Gage.) I liked reading about festivals and dancing and name day celebrations.Gage does a great job of weaving Greek history (ancient and more modern) in with her own experiences. I like having context for why people do what they do. Gage knows how to give that context. The book ends with six recipes and a bibliography. A glossary of Greek terms would have been nice. (Greek words were defined in the text, but I certainly don't remember every new word I encountered while reading this book. A glossary would have been a handy reference tool.)All in all, I did enjoy reading this book, but I have no desire to read it again.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-01-14 06:21

    I didn't actually finish this. I found it getting too self-conscious, and including pretty boring dialogue, ordinary conversation between family members. But I did think it an interesting look at a Greek-American going back to the village of her family, where her grandmother was murdered and trying to find her roots and establish herself in a village where single women were not supposed to be so autonomous.

  • Marcie
    2018-12-30 07:30

    After reading Ms. Gage's novel, The Ladies of Managua, I decided to read her memoir North of Ithaka. I enjoyed reading about Ms. Gage's return to her ancestral homeland, but I enjoyed her fictional work that took place mostly in Nicaragua much more. North of Ithaka traces Eleni Gage's journey from New York City to the remote Greek village Lia. While in Lia, she rebuilds her grandmother's home that has been left abandoned since the Greek Civil War. The time spent in Lia allows Eleni to learn more about her grandmother's execution by Communist guerillas who were occupying Lia. In addition to following the ups and downs of home reconstruction, Ms. Gage's book examines Greek culture and traditions. In doing so, her tale is both personal and informative.

  • Becki Basley
    2019-01-10 09:19

    I actually did something that I rarely do with books while I was waiting to get this book as an interlibrary loan.. I read the reviews and was fully prepared.. to freaking hate it. The story of her grandmother Eleni was first introduced to me by my own mother and I remember it as being one of the first adult books I read recommended by my mother. I also read Eleni's father's second book very recently and that led me to this one. I did not hate this book, I felt it was an honest account of a woman's experience coming to terms with her family's tragic past and trying to change the memories of a place from bitterness to nostalgic. I think she succeeded in bringing peace to her own life and to her father and his sisters.

  • Anne
    2019-01-12 02:11

    Eleni Gage is the daughter of writer Nicholas Gage. His most famous book; Eleni is the story of his mother who was murdered during the Greek Civil War. Eleni was adapted for film in 1985 - John Malkovitch played the role of Nick GageEleni Gage returned to the small village of Lia in Northern Greece with the intention of rebuilding her murdered Grandmother's house. This is the house in which she was keep prisoner and the house from which she made her final journey. Eleni's father and his sisters have all since settled in America and the house is now inhabitable. Eleni was determined that she would restore it to its former glory - much to the dismay of her aunts who were convinced that something evil would happen to her if she dared to disturb the house with such sad memories.North Of Ithaka is Eleni's story, and it is wonderfully written. It's part memoir and part history and makes compelling and fascinating reading. Eleni was welcomed into the bosom of village life, probably because her family was well-known in the area, but the warmth and kindness of her neighbours is overwhelming - as is the frustration and irritation that Eleni felt as she encountered some of the difficulties in getting anyone in Greece to work quickly or to a timescale.This story is so much more than the account of how the house was rebuilt. Such insight into the lives of the villagers, their customs and their beliefs add so much to the whole reading experience.I read Nicholas Gage's Eleni some years ago, but have never seen the film. I intend to change that very soon.Anyone who loves Greece, is interested in recent history and enjoys travel and food will love this book.

  • Trunatrschild
    2019-01-08 04:22

    I got this book from a recommendation from the Folklore Society, based on the fact that the author has a degree in Folklore and went back to Greece to finish a family saga, and it's a secondary book to her father's book "Eleni". Unfortunately, this is probably her first book. It's very self conscious and the dialogue is very mundane. I was hoping for a lot more folklore, but I think that the author was trying more for 'atmosphere'. I think that the book has potential, but as is, it's very boring. I think if the author was more experienced, it might have been a better book, the idea is very good. I've spent some time in Greece and Turkey and I know that there was so much more that she could have said, but was probably vetting it for an American audience, whereas if she hadn't, it might have been more interesting. For example, she described several perilous driving incidences, leaving it up to us to imagine driving conditions in Greece, instead of explaining that a lot of Greece is vertical and the roads very very narrow. She has a stone house built, but doesn't explain that most houses are stone in the country as Greece has a plethora of stones. I think that if she'd explained more of Greece and just wove her story into it, it would have been more interesting, instead the story came out as very mundane. The most explaining she did that I notice was when she visited Albania and compared Greece to Albania, calling Albania a dump is leaving out so much, like what post Communist poverty has done to the country. Anyway, it is very difficult to finish the book, even though I think it has a lot of potential.

  • Jessica
    2019-01-16 05:30

    I really enjoyed this memoir/travelogue. I had read Nicholas Gage's "Eleni" so I knew the history of this family going in to the book. I think it's great that Eleni's granddaughter - also named Eleni - decided to rebuild the family home and with that, hopefully restore a place for herself in her ancestral village. This book follows the reconstruction of that house, and shares a lot of specific cultural moments in the village - saints days, Easter, festivals - as well as more mundane day-to-day life stories. I liked that Eleni embraced Greek superstitions with enthusiasm and had her coffee grounds read, had an egg white reading predict her future, sacrificed a rooster so she could bury the head in the foundation of the house (and fed the workers the meat), and received various blessings from priests and villagers, etc. More broadly, this is the first travelogue/memoir about Greece that I have read - and I have read many - that was written by a Greek-American woman. (For whatever reason, there are a lot of books on Greece written by British men, who might be able to speak the language but don't seem to understand or fully respect the culture at all.) I could relate to a lot of the conflict she faced about living in to different worlds, and having to meet the expectations of each. It is really great to read about someone eager to preserve her cultural heritage in a modern way. Finally, I appreciate that this book is about a village in Epiros, which is the region where my family is from and I have been lucky enough to visit.

  • Kerry Hennigan
    2019-01-05 04:21

    “North of Ithaka” is Eleni Gage’s charming travel/memoir of the time she spent in a small village in northern Greece, restoring from absolute ruin the house of her paternal grandparents.During the Greek Civil War it had been taken over by Communist troops and its basement used as a prison. Eleni’s own grandmother had been one of the locals imprisoned there – until she had been taken out and executed.Many in the village of Lia have bad memories of the house that once stood half way up the hillside. Eleni is plagued with doubts about the reception she and her project will receive from the people she is dependent on to get the job done and those to whom she is related.But over time Eleni becomes less a visitor than a resident – one the locals beg to return to them once her project is completed. She joins in with their social life - and becomes the centre of it in some instances.“North of Ithaka” presents a fascinating picture of rural Greek life, with its social and familial rituals and some decidedly pagan folk customs that co-exist with the rituals of the Church.Lia was a village that believed itself to be dying, its young going off to the cities or moving overseas to work, as did Eleni’s own family. But her presence and her house project bring new interest and a breath of life to the locals, who embrace her as one of their own.Review by Kerry Hennigan31 March 2015

  • Christina
    2018-12-22 07:05

    "A place that pains you, in Greek vernacular, is somewhere you love. To love a place is to feel for it, to let it wound you so it leaves a scar, a permanent keepsake that helps you identify yourself."A well-written book that I was easily able to relate to as a child of Greek immigrant parents myself. Eleni's apprehension to resurrect a tragic past is trumped by her desire to breathe new life into the Gatzoyannis family home. In completing this project, she has erected a monument to all those who died unjustly at the hands of their captors while also creating a place she can come home to.

  • Stephanie
    2018-12-23 08:10

    Great memoir of a granddaughter's journey back to her family's Greek village to re-build the house and the past of her grandmother, Eleni Gage. The story is a modern-day woman's connection with her family's rich and dark past dating back to WW2 Greek village devastated by war and murder. The book is written from a modern perspective on the history of our roots and how they make up who we are today as Greek American women living in America. Great read with a universal theme for all women who have ancestors from any part of the world.

  • gini
    2019-01-19 10:06

    A fun read about reclaiming your family history. A young woman from the states goes back to the family home in Greece to rebuild her grandmothers house ... Love the ties she builds to the region and would personally love to have that kind of connection and opportunity (daddy bankrolling the adventure I guess would help) her grandmother was the Eleni the movie was based on ... Now to go back and rewatch it ...

  • Inge Hulsker
    2019-01-11 10:30

    Good read. I liked how well she describes the feeling of the small greek village and it's people. I felt like I really got to know them. I didn't read Eleni first, I guess you should to know the full story, but it's not necessary. The descriptions of the rituals and holidays were a bit too much for me sometimes, but overall it was a fast read.

  • Jeanne (jkcosmos) Cosmos
    2019-01-18 04:12

    This would never have been published; but for her father being a writer. The energy level is low and the interest engagement also challenging. I have given it a 'shot' however, will have to pick up something else. The font & cover are well-put together. Otherwise, read it in a waiting room or but not even a good beach book.I picked it up for a dollar at a library sale; & will give it back to library with a few others. Actually I have the hardcover edition.

  • Julie
    2018-12-21 09:29

    A really engaging account of Elena's return to Lia to rebuild her grandmother's house. The story interweaves the atrocities of the second world war with Elena's attempts to fit in to modern day village life. What I found interesting was the dichotomy of those with two cultures - do you manage to fit into both or neither?

  • Adrian
    2018-12-21 06:27

    Tee hee - I've joined a book club! And this is my first book!-------------Someone else at the book club rated this an 8/10...maybe I'm in the wrong book club. I found the book unorganized and trite, and not really that interesting. I wouldn't have finished it if it hadn't been for a discussion group.

  • Kat
    2019-01-17 03:13

    this starts out with the girl rebuilding the family home in greece. she quit her job in ny and moved there to see to the construction. the rest of the family, her aunts, didnt want her to as that is where the bad things happened during the war. the enemy took over her grandmas house. her grandma was killed there as well as many other people of the village.

  • Gloria
    2018-12-25 08:29

    Eleni Gage was doing a book signing at an event in the Detroit area that my son happened to be working at. He was impressed, thought it sounded like a book his mother would like to read and bought it for me. I am finally getting to read it and am enjoying the story. What a wonderful adventure! I'll rate it after I finish it.

  • Katherine
    2019-01-05 10:14

    Full disclosure: I know, and adore, the author personally, but this is truly one of the loveliest memoirs I've read. This exploration of cultural identity is poignant and funny, clever and warm, and makes you immediately want to book a ticket to Greece. Highly recommended.

  • Tori
    2019-01-12 02:26

    2008- A story of a woman's quest to spend a year rebuilding her grandmother's home high in the mountaintops of Greece, while also discovering her history. Made me want to read the book about her grandmother.

  • Vicky
    2018-12-30 04:15

    So goodSo goodI am not Greek but it does not matter. To go back to your grandparents homeland and rediscover their lives and swim in the memories of family and friends. This was a book of love and you will love it.

  • Maria
    2019-01-08 02:17

    I was hoping to get a lot from this book, but it failed to maintain my interests. The only redeeming thing about the book was looking at the old pictures featured. Her father's work captures so much raw emotion and North of Ithaka seems flat in comparison. I really wanted to like this book.

  • Ala
    2019-01-06 05:01

    Nice book, but a little too cliché if you really know Greece. But I suppose Greeks who emigrated in Europe and those who emigrated elsewhere in the world see Greece differently. Overall, it's a nice book, though not as well written as her father's (can't help the comparision, sorry).

  • Colin
    2018-12-27 08:12

    An interesting book about the author's return to her ancestral village in Greece, indeed her ancestral home. Interesting, but not terribly profound. There are recipes in the back, if one is into Greek cuisine (which I'm generally not, despite my general Hellenophile nature).

  • Wendy
    2018-12-22 09:29

    Great sequel to Eleni....what a wonderful experience to go back and rebuild a memorial to someone you have never meet but are so connected with. Learned a lot about Greek culture and found it all to be so interesting.

  • Sandra Molloy
    2018-12-26 08:28

    Read this after the island and was a little disappointed .... But to be fair its only becase i fell in love with the island... So do read and dont take my review too seriously

  • Jill
    2018-12-31 05:16

    I read before I was to vacation in Greece.Full of interesting info about the people and culture.

  • Maria Aliferis-Gjerde
    2018-12-22 05:14

    So good

  • Marsha
    2018-12-22 03:00

    Nicholas Gage's daughter's story about rebuilding her grandmother Eleni's house in Lia. Oct 2008. OK. -- OK