It's All Greek to Me!: A Tale of a Mad Dog and an Englishman, Ruins, Retsina--and Real Greeks
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It's All Greek to Me!: A Tale of a Mad Dog and an Englishman, Ruins, Retsina--and Real Greeks

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  35 reviews
With unforgettable characters coming to life on every page, this humorous story of one family's search for the Arcadian idyll speaks volumes about learning to live, laugh, and drink Ouzo together while turning a tumbledown ruin into a place to hold their hearts.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 20th 2004 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing
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A really enjoyable book and one that I shall doubtlessly – before too long – add to the mere handfull of books that I've read more than once. I've been travelling to Greece for some 11 or 12 years and John Mole's tale of building a life for himself and his family on the island of Evia is rich in both familiarity and self-deprecating humour, as well as giving the answers to all sorts of little questions about Greek life that I've pondered for ages. Highly recommended.
It was such a funny book! I read it cover to cover not only because it had to do with my native land, but also because the writer had such a skill of describing in such a funny way his relationship with his wife.
Simply hilarious but also managing to portray accurately and vividly the Greek countryside of the years between 1970 and 1980.
What happens when an expat Brit impulsively buys a dilapidated goat pen with twenty years of excrement covering it as a house in Greece for his family? What family would even tolerate such a suggestion? This book chronicles the very unromantic reality of making a dream (run away and live on a Greek island) come true. There are inevitable clashes of culture that make for some pretty wild misunderstandings at times, some really funny, others a bit shocking. The author very capably shares how idiot...more
I bought this book for all the positive reviews, expecting it to be a great, hilarious read. Overall, it is a fairly quick one to read and rather enjoyable, with an all-British sense of humour, although not as funny as I'd hoped. How John Mole's marriage and family survived this experience is amazing ... even questionable at times, which makes me believe the whole thing was highly glamourized. I wouldn't recommend it to people of Greek descent and/or who actually know Greece. My mum is Greek and...more
Mark Kavanagh
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. The subtitle `A tale of a mad dog and an Englishman, ruins, retsina - and real greeks` sums it up nicely.

This is a highly readable tale of John Mole's conversion of a stone ruin on the island of Evia into a family home. Purchased in a haze of local whisky and, initially at least, with casual disregard for legal formalities (the `contract` was created in the local cafenion on a page torn from an exercise book), the ruin is gradually tamed until it's fit to move his f...more
This was a fun and quick book, I enjoyed it! It was interesting to read the author's exploits about living in Greece and building his 'dream' house in Greece. Having been to Greece many times (and having dated a native Greek who lived in Greece for a couple years), I could relate to some of the customs, beliefs, ways of life, and general cultural antics of the Greeks. Some of the stories made me laugh out loud (especially when the pet dog "turned to concrete") while others made me cringe. All in...more
Paula Weisberger
Finally finished the last of 3 memoirs about living in Greece that I bought before my trip to Greece this summer, and probably my favorite. The British author and his wife and four kids literally renovated a goat shack on an island. He painted a great, and often funny, picture of what it would be like to be immersed in life in a little Greek village " with no road, no water, no electricity, no roof, no floor, no doors, no windows, and twenty years of goat dung." I especially liked his second to...more
Kwame Webb
This is a darling and enchanting book that I read while in Greece. Mole perfectly summarizes the outsider's view of Greek life. In Mole's portrayal, petty feuds seemingly last forever while grave insults are forgotten by dinner-time. He offers excellent humor regarding the foibles of assimilating his British family to Greek island life. This is an excellent travel read and piece of escapist fiction.
I liked this one quite a bit but I also enjoyed the movie "National Lampoon's European Vacation". While this book isn't nearly as madcap as that movie, this book pretty much captures life in a small Greek village (I am a first generation Greek so I can vouch for Mole's accuracy. He talks about rebuilding his house, his family and his new neighbors in a humorous and loving way. A fun, fast read.
A lovely book about Greece, back in time when Greece was much simpler (I won't say better). His writing is so simple and you can read whole pages without getting tired. I liked the fact that he was able to make some research about names, legends, traditions and food, I didn't know a lot of that stuff.
I totally recommend it but please, don't expect to find most of that stuff in Greece anymore.
Lisa Corathers
Well, I'm quite amazed that the author's marriage survived intact, let alone his life, after he bought a VERY dilapidated house on a Greek island without conferring first with his wife. Some of the adventures in Greek home ownership were quite amusing, but the narrative was far cruder than, say, Peter Mayle's "A Year in Province" or Frances Mayes "Under the Tucscan Sun".
My husband read this book first and highly recommended it to me, and for good reason; lots of funny parts, explanations of the terribly difficult building of their home upon the ruined house they bought, nice portraits of his neighbors in the village, descriptions of feasts featuring roast lamb on a spit, the local ouzo, superstitions, and much more.
A light hearted book about John and his family living in Greece.

He finds a ruined property that he decides to buy without consulting his wife! Or four children and this book is about the way that he repaired, renovated and rebuilt this with the help of the locals.

Mole writes with a witty self depreciating style, and it is quite funny in parts.
Joshua Hodges
This book is absolutely hilarious -- so funny that at times you'll wonder if Mole's telling the truth. The excellent comedic timing makes this book totally worth it, especially if you have been to Greece. Fantastic travel writing. I picked up the book just to pass the time on the plane and I could not put it down.
Light and amusing. Perhaps worthy of 3.5 stars more than four, but considering that it made me chuckle several times during an air travel experience that was otherwise not filled with occasions for laughter - and featured two babies with a talent for piercing screams - I'll round up. It's a good beach book.
This was a fun, quick read and I enjoyed John Mole's "adventures" in Greece very much. Although I've never visited Greece before, I found that the Greek way of life & customs do resemble life in the Balearics a lot so this was not "all Greek to me" after all;)
Funny and quick read, and especially enjoyable after having just spent 2 weeks in (semi) rural Greece. Mole provides good character sketches of his Greek neighbors and fellow villagers, and his comparisons of Greek vs. British mentality is witty and self-deprecating.
Nikos Skantzos
Funny account of the greek culture and habbits within a local village in Evia. Greek hospitality, superstition, cunning minds, the evil eye, the greek language... the author enjoys struggling with all these. Very enjoyable
At first I thought: "Oh no - another Brit expat on the Continent!" However, it was soon clear that Mole has a great sense of humor and a lot of stories to tell - definitely recommended!
If you want to read a funny story about "introduction to Greeks"; this book is a good start. It is full of stereotypes but it is gentle shows the nice life of Greek people
Laura White
Quite funny and nearly accurate, even if written in the '70s. Think, "A Year in Provence", but if you've ever been to the Greek Islands, you'll find this book hilarious.
Lovely book! It's got a screamingly funny scene in the book, when he gets wood and transports it home and it involves his son! I still get the giggles about that scene!
Anyone who has been to Greece, especially more rural areas will identify with the Author's confusion! Really enjoyable and nostaligic until my next trip to Greece!
Need to go to Greece now. Fav line: "As I turned to Arfa, she turned and gave me the long reproachful look of a calf who knows what a stun gun is."
If you enjoy the "fixer upper" kind of armchair travel, this book will have you longing for your own small piece of a Greek island.
this tale of an Englishman who buys a goat shed in Greece and turns it into a home for his family is humorous in small doses.
Paula Curtis
brought me back to a greece I knew well - of story's told by my parents and my own experience

It's funny. It's a little outdated, but he does capture Greek rural life.
A humorous book full of laughter. Makes you want to travel to Greece (of yesterday).
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John Mole, born in 1945, is an author of comic novels, business guides, and business/travel memoirs.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
More about John Mole...
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