Title: Fortune Favors the Bold: A Woman’s Odyssey through a Turbulent Century
Author: Theodore Modis
Genre: Creative Non-fiction / Biography / Memoir
This creative nonfiction work looks at the life of Theodosia Modis, lover and wife of Giorgos Modis, the son of a significant martyr in the cultural and political conflict between Greeks and Bulgarians in Macedonia prior to the First World War. Though she was primarily a schoolteacher, mother, and wife, this volume celebrates the story of her achievements and her long and eventful life.
Readers will first meet Theodosia as a young girl living in Constantinople. The Great War sends her father off to fight, and soon, her mother dies from typhus. Her father returns to find his children in need of a mother, so he remarries, but his business struggles until he loses all hope and commits suicide. Theodosia’s stepmother returns to her own village, and the children are spread out among relatives until Theodosia finds herself under the care of her loving grandfather.
Fate continues to send hardships Theodosia’s way, though, and after the war, she and her sister and grandfather are sent to Greece along with other refugees from their area. She manages to continue her schooling, despite the relocation and the ensuing death of her grandfather, and eventually she becomes a schoolteacher, which is when she meets the personable and fashionable Giorgos Modis.
What follows is a love story that struggles against many factors, including the social stigma of being with a man when she isn’t yet engaged to him. Together, Giorgos and Theodosia face professional setbacks, the attacks by the Italians and the invasion by the Germans in World War II, and the wishes of Giorgos’s mother, the strong and opinionated Paraskevi. Yet in the end, Theodosia manages to marry Giorgos and have a life with him, enjoying patches of happiness in the midst of difficulties.
The narration is nicely balanced, showing both Theodosia and Giorgos’s backgrounds and families, and it is punctuated by passages that help readers understand the historical context of the story. The length is such that readers will enjoy a very rich account, reading of the minutiae of daily life along with excerpts from Giorgos’s short literary career.
Some might find the volume hard to follow in places, though, as many similar names are included and the work doesn’t solely focus on Theodosia and Giorgos. The fate of other members of their family and their friends is also noted, which can make it hard to recall who one is reading about at times.
Further, the epilogue jumps around, mentioning people the reader never meets, so while this is clearly a tribute to the author’s mother, there are sections of her life and the lives of her children that are left out, to where readers may feel they are missing something, even when the book is finished.
This book offers readers an immersive experience, a chance to discover what life was like in Greece during much of the 20th century through one woman’s life. It shares the joys and struggles equally with a sense of humor, and readers will find that Theodosia and Giorgos richly come alive through the pages.
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