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This month’s ‘Book of the Month’ is unusual for three reasons. First, the novel was given to me as a present. Secondly, it was written by a close neighbour. And, thirdly, the story takes places on the small island on which I live.

Pepromeno – the Greek word for ‘destiny’ – was first published in 2009. It’s author, Katherine Nora, decided a few years earlier to take time out from painting to try her hand at creative writing. It was a brave venture but also a successful one which has led to two further novels Theo and Rio in 2015 and Sipson’s Isle published this month.

Nora, who originates from Cape Cod, spends several months a year on the island of Symi and in the past for much longer periods of time.
Pepromeno is a work of fiction but one which draws heavily on characters and incidents associated with Symi as well as Massachusetts, Australia and Vietnam. The blurb neatly sets out the plot:

“Cape Cod artist Owen Langbroek receives a letter from Greece, a lawyer notifying him that he has inherited a house on one of the islands. The house belonged to his father, a man who vanished when Owen was small, never to be seen or heard from again. Owen travels to the island to see the house and there he finds a journal written by his father. As he becomes involved in the details of daily life among the island's Greek and ex-pat community, Owen reads the journal and begins to know his father. One of the main characters in the journal was the great love of his life. Another is still living on the island, a scam artist who involved his father in various illegal schemes and now challenges Owen's rightful ownership of the house. Eventually the two stories begin to knit together as Owen makes some startling discoveries that force him to step into his father's shoes, confront their shared enemy and unravel the mystery of his desertion.” (Amazon)

Pepromeno succeed in its ambitions? The answer is unequivocally ‘yes’. This is a mystery-thriller, a cautionary tale and a painful voyage of self-discovery. Nora combines acute observation and colourful description with formal structure and consistent pace. In reality Nimos is a small uninhabited island north of Symi which keeps its Feast in August. Ultimately Pepromeno is a novel about location and dislocation, both geographically and psychologically; the past is seldom what we imagine it must have been, detective work should always have its place!


Book of the Month

Katherine Nora