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When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon


A nostalgic tale about childhood, love, lore and family, When the Cypress Whispers attempts to capture the longings of a young woman who reached the American Dream and yet torn and bound to her old roots.

Daphne arrives to the island of Erikousa, Greece after six years. Being a four-star chef in New York, there was no time to visit her grandmother to whom she spent many beautiful Greek summers as a child growing up in America. With all the happy memories the island brought to her, Daphne has decided to have her own wedding take place on the island.

But as the day of the affair approaches, the spirit of family and the island life stirs something in her, awakens her into new understandings and reminding her of things she had forgotten in her busy life. Her grandmother, whom she calls Yia-yia, harbors secrets; stories of old about cypresses whispering, stories of wisdom and unfailing courage which Yia-yia yearns to impart to her beloved granddaughter before it’s too late.

Its premise quite appealed to me. Spartan yet scenic Greek island life and folk lore with a hint of magic realism make for an ultimate escape reading. Corporon is obviously very familiar with the culture for she was able to portray these little quirks of countryside living as natural as breathing.

However, the book’s momentum seemed to swing out of balance in the course of the narration. Chapters shuttle from past to present in a rather flat rhythm and create a break in the flow of attention. Some well-written characters actually drown the plot. Its turnabout near the end, within the story and the heroine, seems unable to convince.

The dames of the island, like Yia-yia and Nitsa, more than made up for the rest, methinks. They were the best personalities in the book and even Poppi, Daphne’s cousin, steals a lot of thunder. The only time Daphne shines out to me is when she is in a scene with her Yia-yia. Her deep love and close relationship to her is the most beautiful part. 

I'd like to think if the story was carried through in this intent, the book would have hold up for me. The romance certainly did not. I felt the romantic element became almost a tool for a particular development in the story line instead of boosting it up.

Yet, the little background stories revealed is worth reading on. In a way, it is a book not only of self-discovery but also of great inspiration and strength.

Summary

On a beautiful Greek island, myths, magic, and a colorful cast of characters come together in a lushly atmospheric story about past and present, family and fate, love and dreams that poignantly captures the deep bond between an American woman and her Greek grandmother

The daughter of Greek immigrants, Daphne aspires to the American Dream, yet feels as if she's been sleepwalking through life. Caught between her family's old-world traditions and the demands of a modern career, she cannot seem to find her place.

Only her beloved grandmother on Erikousa, a magical island off the coast of Greece, knows her heart. Daphne's fondest memories are of times spent in the kitchen with Yia-yia, cooking and learning about the ancient myths. It was the thought of Yia-yia that consoled Daphne in the wake of her husband's unexpected death.

After years of struggling to raise her child and pay the bills, Daphne now has a successful restaurant, a growing reputation as a chef, and a wealthy fianc?-everything she's ever wanted. But across the ocean, Yia-yia can see through the storybook perfection of Daphne's new life- and now she is calling her back to Erikousa. She has secrets about the past to share with her granddaughter- stories from the war, of loyalty and bravery in the face of death. She also has one last lesson to teach her: that security is not love, and that her life can be filled with meaning again.

Title: When the Cypress Whispers
Author: Yvette Manessis Corporon
Genre: Contemporary, Women Fiction, Cultural
Published: April 2014
Publisher: Harper
Rating: ♨♨ 1/2 (2 and half cups - An OK read with nice scenery of the Greek island life and engaging islanders.)

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