Author name: Effie Kammenou
Name of the book: Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga
Genre of the book: Women’s fiction, Contemporary romance, Family saga
Book synopsis: In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance.
But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets – ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.
The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.
Evanthia’s Gift is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.
Effie Kammenou writes with confidence in her debut novel Evanthia’s Gift: The Gift Saga Book 1, where we follow the story of a Greek-American family through the life of Anastacia Fotopoulos. In a story spanning three generations, we get a glimpse of life in Greece through her parents’ and in-laws’ viewpoints as the country is ravaged by the Second World War.
In 1956, Ana finds herself in New York, pregnant, and escaping from a bad marriage. Surrounded by family and friends, she tries to get on with her life, vowing not to fall in love again. That is until a former acquaintance, Alexandros Giannakos, comes along. Unable to get pregnant again, Ana goes through another painful phase. And her daughter, Sofia, who grows up between two cultures, faces her own struggles too.
Evanthia’s Gift: The Gift Saga Book 1 chronicles the life of a Greek-American family. As such, we get to learn about the Greek culture and how it is preserved in a foreign country through generations. The recipes at the start of some chapters certainly help to enhance the story. And if it’s location you want, Evanthia’s Gift offers that too, but Effie Kammenou, unwittingly perhaps, shows us that even in New York, a place of many nations, Ana still prefers her own kind when it comes to those she keeps the closest.
As the story progresses, the plot reveals a number of fissures crackling beneath the surface – marriages falter and children stray. In the end, this is a universal story of love, pain, hope, and dreams made exceedingly colorful and interesting because it unravels through generations and between two completely different cultures.
Guest review contributed by Maria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite.