Ida Egli’s new novel, Krisanthi’s War, has commandeered the hearts of its readers. Are you ready to dive into its pages of wonder? Read up on its endless praise…
“This amazing book brings a period of dark history in Greece alive with all it’s violence, brutality, and destruction, but also the love, friendship, and trust that aided Krisanthi, her family, and her friends to survive and endure. The authenticity that is so evident is what makes the book so fascinating. Situations and people are so real that the reader feels the tension, smells the foods, and lives the fear. I hope this will be the first of many from such a talented author!” -Jaume Minor, Spain
“First, I have reached the point of reading Krisanthi’s War where Anthi has finally received a letter from Yorgoes; he will arrive in Athens October 18. I have slowed my reading to a slow walking pace, not wanting to part from characters about whom I have grown quite fond. The book is so well balanced, with so many clear and distinct personalities. I really commend you on the masterful way you have structured this book, too: the final third is so compelling, as you transform your personal interviews with Greek women into a truly remarkable story of resilience, friendship, love, and determination–and much more. Your translation of personal factual stories into clear and often eloquent narrative is why this reader does not look forward to waving goodbye to everyone from Piraeus Harbor. PS: I finished reading Krisanthi’s War this morning, I would like to add the following to my earlier comments: This book is a powerful plea—via Krisanth Skambilis’s voice—for diplomacy before governments take actions for which their own soldiers and ordinary citizens will pay enormous personal prices. Readers will find Eros and Agape in these pages, but make no mistake: this is a first-rate anti-war novel.” -Robert Hamilton, Portland, Oregon
“I must tell you, your book is one of the best I have ever read in my life. I tend to only read in bed before I go to sleep. Almost every night your beautiful words bring me to tears. I would like to give your book as gifts this holiday season. It would mean so much to me if you would sign them for me. No hurry!
It makes me sad that [because of Covid] you can’t be having huge book signings in big bookstores so everyone can experience you and this wonderful book. I tell everyone I meet about your book and encourage book clubs to choose your book. A humble fan!” -Christina Chapman, California
“I just wanted to let you know how much a I enjoyed Krisanthi’s War. The three women came to life on the pages and you felt all their emotional ups and downs through tragedy, love, and friendship. Jody is taking it to the coast this week when she goes with a friend. Thanks for sharing this remarkable story.” -Dick McGoogan, California
“You blew me away with your book. I have gone thru periods of reading fiction during my time—Hemingway & Fitzgerald (a local hero-Gatsby may have been from my town) in high-school; Camus in college & Kundera after that, but as a rule read only nonfiction. I do read Joan’s novels when they come out & was anxious to finally get to read the novel you have been telling me about for many years. I did enjoy the cultural & historical info, but also found myself moved while reading it-to tears in places. You really brought these women alive to me and gave me a whole new perspective on the war. So thank you. I may feel a little I intimidated next time I see you! I would enjoy seeing these stories brought to a screen somewhere & hope you would consider looking into that. I was reminded a bit of the 1985 film Eleni while reading about Anthi.” -Monte Freidig, California
“How you managed to write such an earthy, rich and brave book about the most the most awful of times has me in awe. Krisanthi, Maria, Kalliope will linger as friends into my old age.
If I may personalize a bit, the women of 1960s Siguatepeque where I lived struggled to feed their children in similar ways and usually with courageous hearts. Their men were absent, not at war, but
gone, nevertheless. In the really rural aldeas I encountered both parents, but rarely in town.
Even TsiTsi touched my heart. I felt for the stoic mules I rode in Honduras.
When I die I would love to be smelling lilacs and see my daughter smiling in a blue dress like Anthi wore for Yorgoes blessed return.
I admire, too, the way you wove in history throughout the novel. I think of the wailing Trojan women and now, tragically, here we are still with so many suffering the brutalities of war and thuggery. You were able to make me see the mangy cats, the unbelievable horrors and on and on, but I also felt the intense passion, the indomitable will to survive, the Aegean beauty, sumptuously described garden colors and tastes. I just read, no notes, or too much pondering so I am sharing from the top of my drowsy warm summer head. One of the hardest things for me was what happened to Gino. Please, NO! I thought.” -Karen Kellam, California
“I just finished your masterpiece – I am still in tears! Thank you for writing it.” -Pat Randall, California
“I found your book to be an excellent story of life in Greece under Hitler. Terror filled, but also showing how love and family can triumph.” -Tom Amato, California
“I have just finished your book, just closed the cover and set it beside me. There is much I want to say to you, and many questions that I have about your research for the book. But tonight I want to tell you that the characters and their stories that you have brought to life will live with me in my heart forever. You are a skilled and brilliant writer. Technically – yes ! But you have created a book that is more than that, much more. It is filled with a deep spring of love and family, courage and loss and, finally the gift of generational continuance, of a future that rises from the ashes. I am moved by your book. Congratulations – it is masterful and remarkable. You should be very, very proud.
The wedding scene is masterful and the chapter where Yorgoes tells the story of he and Penelope is perfect. I could have hated him for it. It could have come across as an un-needed subplot. But neither of those things occurred . And the final line of Chapter 20 slayed me. “’I love you more than anything,’ he says, and I can feel this is so.” Beautiful.
I also love the bouncing between three time periods.” -Janette Supp, California
“Loud applause and caterwauling—Krisanthi’s War is a stunning book. Congratulations. The years of research, writing and honing have birthed a powerful treatise. Scenes, characters, emotions, even thoughts were painted with such clarity and depth that I often lost myself in the moment. Of great import to easily distraught me was the violence and brutality were balanced in intensity by love and loyalty. Wow! Bravo.
FYI (or you can just skip this paragraph)… several years ago at the Bridwell residence on the distaff side a moratorium was placed on WWII literature. The market had seemingly been glutted and I had read enough to know (and hate) the history. So for the sake of calm and content I decided to sidestep for a while all forms of WWII narrative. But then… there was Krisanthi’s War, a tome by YOU, so no question I would read it. Thank goodness. Poignant. Gripping, Soulful! Thank you.
The criteria for a Good Read at my vintage is this: it must be entertaining, it must be educational, it must leave me pondering once the last page is turned. Krisanthi’s War did that in spades. You have, in my humble opinion, produced an astonishing book.
Eagerly I await what’s coming.” -Cathie Bridwell, Florida
“I just finished Krisanthi’s War. I don’t think I need to tell you this, but the book is absolutely brilliant. I was carried away by the story and the beauty and sadness you so eloquently brought to life. I’m proud to know you.
I have a feeling that the book will become an important part of our literature. I’ve read much about WW2, but Krisanthi’s War presented a side of it that isn’t told enough. If only politicians could be exposed to more literature like it, perhaps we wouldn’t need to go through the futility of war anymore. Maybe a foolish dream, but why not dream it.” -Bob Cohen, California
“Krisanthi’s War: in Hitler’s Greece lyrically tells the story of three women, friends since childhood, from the introduction at age 8, through the occupation and liberation of Greece in 1945. A decidedly antiwar story, it is beautiful and brutal with all the horror that war brings. The author has a wonderful device where she moves you during all the stories, into 1985, when she is beginning to write about her experiences of the war. Her deceased husband and son appear to her as though they are living, to help and encourage er writing. All through the book she shows you the beauty of Greece and its people, its culture and mythology. Birth, death, love, passion, cruelty, anxiety, PTSD—all are part of this flowing, beautifully-written book. Having been born after WWII, I was never very interested in the history, and never thought about the Greek occupation. This book enlightened me. And it is authentic in that she and her Greek husband interviewed war survivors for their stories.” -Margaret Drugay, Arizona
“Your book is phenomenal. I did not want the story to end. I felt like I was there every step of the way in Greece, with the women, with the horrors of war. Good twist with Anthi raising Maria’s baby Argos. I had wondered earlier if she wasn’t pregnant by Gino but you wove the story so skillfully. Wow, what a novel. WELL DONE. Superb. Well worth all the years of toil and work. You’ve written a book that will transcend lifetimes. You capture the Greek people, their spirit and history so accurately yet lovingly. Sometimes I would stop and just reread your beautiful words in admiration and enjoyment, complimenting you from afar. I actually marked a few passages that resonated so deeply.
I want to get your book out to a wide audience. It is simply marvelous. You have accomplished what so many strive for in their lives. A masterpiece!” -Nadine Condon, California
“I live to read fiction, especially about suffering that is not my own. A well-crafted story about the dark side of human experience gets me through my own dark times. Things could be much worse! Anne Patchett’s Commonwealth thrilled me long before the movie was made. Hans Fallada’s Little Man What Now? taught me why the Germans fell for Hitler’s message. Everything by John Le Carre, Louise Erdrich, Graham Green, Jean Giono helped the transition from teaching Cinema Studies to retirement. Fiction creates a world for the imagination, to see in the space of one’s mind that order can be fashioned out of chaos….
I cannot praise Ida Rae Egli’s new book Krisanthi’s War: in Hitler’s Greece enough. Passion, wisdom, humanity, sorrow, joy, laughter fill the 350 pages. Krisanthi’s War seems to have come from their wonderful partnership. Egli’s curiosity led her to learn how her husband’s mother got through WWII. Many trips to Greece followed as she interviewed other Greek woman and men. She wove a novel inspired by these accounts. The book describes how three courageous friends Krisanthi, Kalliope & Maria keep themselves and most of their family members alive despite the Nazi’s brutal occupation of their homeland….
Egli does not romanticize the hardships of the war. The three mothers must search out food and medicine keep their children, their families alive. The book develops a strong, compelling rhythm. Episodes ratchet through seasons and locations. The writing is too lovely to race through as one might do in a cheap thriller. When I felt that addictive urge to read what’s next, I put the book aside to let it smolder within my mind, and switched to the placid pages of a non-fiction history Kosta recommended, The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt….
The compassion Egli finds in the midst of hunger and danger gives the scenes of love-making great tenderness. Sweet touching contrasts with a brutal rape. Once an episode has begun, the movement forward becomes relentless as waves in the ocean. The courageous women in Krisanthi’s War love deeply— their men, their families, their children…..
The voice tells us everything is intensely feminine. An unexpected blessing— this male reader discovers desire in balance, understanding Egli’s love scenes from both sides, male and female. Each episode is a complete meal that can be read as a short story. The soldiers are hunting people who, despite a penalty of death, have hoarded food. Lack of food becomes everyone’s central concern. Formerly the Germans confiscated 2/3 of very farmer’s harvest. Now the German’s are losing in Russia, and the Allies have landed in France and Italy so they take 2/3. The villagers fear starvation. So does the German garrison on Rhodes.
The compassion Egli finds in the midst of hunger and danger gives the scenes of love-making great tenderness. Sweet touching contrasts with a brutal rape. Once an episode has begun, the movement forward becomes relentless as waves in the ocean. The courageous women in Krisanthi’s War love deeply— their men, their families, their children.” -Excerpts from a longer review by Dr. Michael Litle, Prof. Emer. of film, Sonoma State Univ.
“I finished Krisanthi’s War yesterday. I enjoyed the whole book, but the end was especially good: revenge on the German lieutenant, Greek antipathy for girlfriends of Germans and Italians, loving acceptance of Argos by Anthi’s family, Yorgoes romantic return, Nigel’s quiet return, Argos family reunion in Naples, the enduring friendship and support of Anthi. Maria, and Kalliope.
I have promised my copy to my ex brother-in-law and his wife. I want to give a copy to C. S. I think that my cycling friends, especially the women, would enjoy it, too.” -Wayne Kellam, California
“This is a marvelous and highly readable book about love, resilience and family in a time of terrible personal crisis. The backdrop of true horrific stories in Greece in WWII, allows the reader to marvel at how ordinary people survive and grow in such times. The author’s lyrical weaving of facts, emotions and courage pull the reader along even through hard to contemplate cruelty. It also is a graphic indictment of the inhumanity of war, especially against people powerless to prevent it. This book ranks up there with the classics raging against how humans hurt and dehumanize other humans.” -Robert K. New Hampshire
“Krisanthi was born to privilege in Athens just after the end of the First World War. Her father is a prosperous gold merchant, and it seems she wants for nothing important as she grew up. She was sent to England for higher education, and even fell in love with one of her classmates. Then her culture and background begins to pull her in. First she is called back to Athens because her family wants to arrange a marriage for her. She bows to her family and marries a slightly older man also from a prosperous family only to discover on the day of her wedding that he had a child by another woman.
After a year or so she learns to love her husband, and then history steps in further enmeshing her in events. Greece becomes embroiled with a war with Italy. It slides towards defeat in that war and Italy occupies Athens and the mainland peninsula. She is invited to move to Rhodes and Lindos by a childhood friend, but declines the invitation. Then Germany becomes the occupying force. They are much harsher towards the Greeks. Wholesale killings of Greek men are carried out partly in retribution for the death of any German, and partly just to establish their domination. Krisanthi hears a Greek child being killed by having its head bashed in. Krisantha’s husband has become a soldier and is fighting with the resistance. He invites her to meet with him at her aunt’s home a ways outside of Athens.
Starting out to see him she is stopped by a German checkpoint where she encounters a German Lieutenant who wants to take advantage of her. She is able to prevail on his superior officer to protect her and is able to meet with her husband. After an evening together he has to flee and she returns to Athens. With the German occupation things have gotten much more brutal and she decides to escape to Rhodes with her mother and Children. She dresses as a nun to avoid being noticed by the Lieutenant.
Initially Rhodes town and Lindos are better. She is reunited with two childhood friends Maria and Kalliope in Rhodes. They are all drawn into the turbulence of the war, watching friends and relatives killed and brutalized. As the Germans are displaced from North Africa they end up on Rhodes and Lindos. There seems to be no end to the gratuitous evil they carry out.
The book starts out with Krisanthi in conversation with her dead husband and son, forty years after the end of the war. They are urging her to tell her story so that by putting it to words she can escape her memories from the time of the war. The book starts with an excerpt from a poem by a Greek woman written in 1948 about walking with her dead friends.
References to Greek tradition, and frequent use of Greek words provide a Greek tone to the story. Perhaps the climax comes at a summer festival the Germans apparently allow the Greeks to celebrate with dancing, merriment and food. Krisanthi’s joy is interrupted by the appearance of the German Lieutenant at the festival and things go from bad to worse for her.
The reader knows that the allied victory over Germany expelled the Germans from Greece. The tension between the Greeks and Germans remains very real despite that omniscience on the part of the reader. The impact of the story on characters the reader has come to like means the ultimate outcome of the war doesn’t represent simple closure for the characters. Maria and Kalliope are also used as narrators demonstrating the breadth of the burden borne by the Greeks.
In Krisanthi’s War, Krisanthi’s story demonstrates that we can’t truly escape our origins and surroundings, but can remain human in responding to challenges.” -Pet S., Florida
“When I first picked up and looked at my wife’s new book, Krisanthi’s War: in Hitler’s Greece, I thought it looked like it would be a real slog: A historical novel about 3 Greek women in the time of Hitler’s invasion of Greece in WWII?? Give me a break.
But I opened it up and started it anyhow, and was quickly transported, carried off to Greece and the unfolding events of WWII. I found it to be a beautifully rendered, intensely immersive experience: Startling, immensely painful and simultaneously suffused with grace. The horrors of war: ever-present terror, hunger, violence, rape, death. But also, spaces of tenderness, stolen moments of exquisite love and love making, the strength of family and the bonds of deep friendship.
The 3 main characters, friends since childhood, suffer the losses of husbands, sons, daughters, lovers, parents, friends, neighbors; of the easygoing rhythms of life as they’d always known it; of the carefree Greek days and evenings, the smells of ocean and tomatoes and olives and bouganvilla wafting in gentle breezes.
And then, through all the depredations of the occupation, these 3 women emerge with their huge losses now woven into the fabric of their lives; but also with wisdom springing up inside them and, most surprisingly of all, with the ability to connect with and affirm each other and life itself.” -John L. Graham, Ph.D., Washington