ABOUT THE BOOK
Cyprus in the run up to the civil war of the 1970s… the threat of it hangs in the atmosphere like a fine mist. A terrible thing, war. Against this backdrop of war and violence, the island’s inhabitants make the best they can of their lives, building friendships, falling in love, having children, watching people die, making mistakes.
Maria Petrakis, however, flees a brutal marriage on the island where she has always lived for London and a new start. She opens a bakery on Green Lanes in Harringay – the centre of the small Greek Cypriot community whose residents have settled there to escape the war and start again. Here she comes into her own as she heals and atones through the kneading of bread and the selling of shamali cakes and cinnamon pastries to her customers.
There are glimpses of the lives of her neighbours, friends and customers as they buy their bread and cakes. There’s Mrs Koutsouli, whose heart was broken when her handsome son married a xeni, an English woman with fish-eyes and yellow hair. There’s Mrs Pantelis, driven half-mad with the grief of losing her son, Nico, in the war. And there’s Mrs Vasili who claims to be related to Nana Mouskouri and grows her hair upwards so she can feel closer to God. Finally, there’s Elena, Maria Petrakis’ daughter-in-law, who has been suffering with the blackness since having a baby, and whom nobody knows quite how to help.
The Making Of Mrs Petrakis is a story about the limited choices women sometimes find themselves confronting. It’s a story about repression and mental illness and the devastation it can wreak on lives. But above all, it is a story of motherhood and love and of healing through the humble act of baking.
BUY LINK: The Making of Mrs Petrakis
I didn’t know what I was expecting when I began this book, but I grew to know the characters and see how life had made them who they became. It is the story of Mrs Petrakis, her life in the small bakery that she had created, and the life she had left behind in Cyprus. It also follows the life of her daughter-in-law Elena and her struggles with post-natal depression.
Mrs Petrakis is a proud woman who loves her bakery shop. There are no short cuts for more profit her reputation is worth so much more. She has a son Costas, who she was determined would marry a good Cypriot girl. Set in the 1970s onwards, war with the Greeks was just around the corner. Maria Petrakis was a good and hard-working woman, but until she married, she had no idea of the brute her husband was. It was Maria, that was made to feel ashamed.
The story jumps back and forth between timelines and the lives of Maria and Elena as the horrors take over the pages of the man Maria has married. The story deals with so many issues, from domestic violence and post-natal depression, to a tragic death. Very heartbreaking, it made me cry. I liked Costas, such a gentle man that tried to do his best in difficult times. He loved his family very much.
It is a story of so many tragedies and joy. The making of Mrs Petrakis, is beautifully written. A woman that even her family didn’t know everything about.
I wish to thank Net Galley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in London in 1978, Mary Karras is the daughter of Greek Cypriot emigres. Her parents separately fled Cyprus in the sixties and seventies, seeking a new life free of the turbulent politics of their native island, settling in north London where they met and married. As a child, Mary and her sisters would visit their grandparents in Harringay, spending time in the Greek Cypriot grocery shops and bakeries that flourished on Green Lanes at that time. Growing up, she developed a keen interest in the concepts of community, cultural dissonance, language and belonging, leading her to pursue a degree in English Literature and Language at King’s College London. She lives in north London, and Mrs Petrakis is her first novel. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.