Hal Gogarty, a seventeen-year-old American, arrives in Salonika, Greece, with his family as World War II is looming in Europe. He falls in love with Magda Sevillas, his tutor in German. She is a brilliant, copper-haired woman of twenty who is half Greek and half Jewish. Their delicately extended courtship is consummated when Hal leaves home to join Magda on the island of Thassos, where she has fled to escape an arranged marriage. Hal and Magda discover the secret contours of their love as they travel through the ...
Hal Gogarty, a seventeen-year-old American, arrives in Salonika, Greece, with his family as World War II is looming in Europe. He falls in love with Magda Sevillas, his tutor in German. She is a brilliant, copper-haired woman of twenty who is half Greek and half Jewish. Their delicately extended courtship is consummated when Hal leaves home to join Magda on the island of Thassos, where she has fled to escape an arranged marriage. Hal and Magda discover the secret contours of their love as they travel through the green mountains and yellow valleys of Greek Macedonia on their way to what they hope will be a new life in Athens. As they learn about the choices lovers have to make when they find themselves in unknown territory - and about the choices imposed on them by capricious gods - the war moves in to separate them. Their final lesson has to wait for the reunion that comes nine years after they have gone separate ways. This is a story of self-discovery in landscapes of love and peril. It is also in many ways the story of human love in this century - without it there is only devastation, and it is worth pursuing against all odds. Edmund Keeley's voice is that of quiet assurance. It is the voice of memory that has no regrets, self-knowledge that is rich with experience, and hope that is fueled by love.
Intense and wonderfully detailed, this absorbing story follows two young lovers on an idyllic and formative journey through pre-WW II Greece. Hal Gogarty, a 17-year-old American temporarily living in Salonika, is doing poorly with his studies, so his family hires as his tutor Magda Sevillas, a 20-year-old half-Greek, half-Jewish girl who is enrolled at the same prestigious German School they both despise. The attraction between them is immediate; Hal is filled with adolescent lust and Magda, who is recovering from an earlier unfortunate affair, is drawn to the basically decent and naive young man. Magda's family, however, has arranged a marriage for her, and the desperate girl flees to the island of Thassos with Hal not far behind. It is to be a journey of self-discovery for both of them--delicate, erotic and bittersweet. Keeley, the author of Libation and professor of English and director of the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton, places his radiant lovers against incomparable backgrounds: stone villages with narrow streets, shimmering wheat and barley fields and a myth-saturated island complete with a priapic god. A harsh and inevitable reality cuts short their odyssey, but seldom has the path to wisdom been portrayed with more grace or passion. (Aug.)
An English professor who has translated numerous volumes of Greek poetry, Keeley brings his long-standing romance with Greece to this, his sixth novel. It is the story of youthful passion between an American boy and his language tutor in Salonika, a slightly older girl who is Greek and Jewish. It is 1938, and Hal Gogarty attends the German School with a number of other foreign students. He loathes the school, with its special patriotic programs for Greeks and Germans from which he is exempted. For the most part, however, he is only marginally aware of the preparations for war in Europe. Hal becomes obsessed with Magda Sevillas, a strong-willed, intelligent girl with copper-colored hair, and makes intricate plans to spend time in her company, unchaperoned, and to turn their tutoring sessions into lovers' trysts. They make their own rules, sensual and "pagan," trusting in nothing but each other. Under Magda's influence, Hal does a lot of growing up. Their love is interrupted twice, once when Magda runs away from an arranged marriage and once by the war.