Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece
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Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  300 ratings  ·  53 reviews
"I lived in Athens, at the intersection of a prostitute and a saint."So begins Patricia Storace's astonishing memoir of her year in Greece. Mixing affection with detachment, rapture with clarity, this American poet perfectly evokes a country delicately balanced between East and West.

Whether she is interpreting Hellenic dream books, pop songs, and soap operas, describing br...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 2nd 1997 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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Joe
Sep 04, 2010 Joe rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: own, memoir
I would like to begin this review with a compliment. Patricia Storace is unbelievably smart. Like, Mensa smart. A genius.

I would like to follow that compliment with a complaint. Patricia Storace is excruciatingly boring. At times, pathologically so.

If I could play Author Matchmaker, I would demand that Storace marry Matthew Battles, author of the terrifically dull Library: An Unquiet History. Theirs would be the perfect union, a constant stream of one-upping in their compendious knowledge.

Reader...more
Stephen Shifflett
Jul 02, 2008 Stephen Shifflett rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs, Philhellens
This is more than a travel book--even with its subtitle "Travels In Greece." And at first I was afraid it would predominately feminist lit, given the V shape cut into the Pomegranate on the cover. But it turned out to be the most important book I've read about modern Greek culture...and how it was shaped by the past. How it was shaped by other peoples, in ancient times--but most importantly since Byzantine times since any number of books cover the time period from the Pre-Socratics to the Romans...more
Iñaki Tofiño
I got the book a thousand years ago and never got to read it. I finally did and loved from the first page to the last. It is Greece the way I remember it from my Erasmus in Thessaloniki, it is the weird feelings, the warm welcomes, the language, the bridge between East and West, the fact of being Europe but sometimes not quite so...
Storace makes a beautiful case for the country and although it is not the best introduction to the country (too many assumptions about too many things) I must say tha...more
Ron
A fairly good read, but a bit wordy! From Amazon: "I lived in Athens, at the intersection of a prostitute and a saint." So begins Patricia Storace's astonishing memoir of her year in Greece. Mixing affection with detachment, rapture with clarity, this American poet perfectly evokes a country delicately balanced between East and West.

Whether she is interpreting Hellenic dream books, pop songs, and soap operas, describing breathtakingly beautiful beaches and archaic villages, or braving the crush...more
Ting
Well what can I say, I thought I would read this book to get an idea of what it would be like to travel in Greece in anticipation of my own travels, and am not impressed. It seems that no matter where the author went she was being asked for sexual favors or the honor of cleaning the houses and having sex with old men. She seems to portray the Greek populace as misogynistic men and subserviant women who think that being slapped around is an honor; a country confused by their place in history hold...more
David Stone
A very thoughtful book on the dream that is Greece. Her journey follows the church calendar and her description of a Greek Easter alone makes her account a joy to read and perhaps even revisit each spring. The chapter on Greek children's book writer Penelope Delta is a standout. Delta reminds me of a Greek Edith Wharton, in her wealthy upbringing and her battle for self-expression and love. Storace's feminist reading of Greece works best in the Delta chapter, but her patience with some of the wo...more
nemea
Loved the cultural observations. To quote from the book, "Greece's cross to bear is the Greeks." I couldn't agree more.
Mark
Ms. Srorace manages to get into the Greek head without being, herself, Greek. What puzzled me was, although she went to many of the places Lawrence Durrell did, and this is a quite literary-name-dropping sort of book, with lots of literary references, historical notes, etc; she never once mentions Mr. Durrell. One might have thought it could come in her chapter on Alexandria (nope) or on Corfu (nope, again.) Perhaps she barely knows, the Durrell I know, for myself at least, the vision of Greece...more
okyrhoe
I haven't finished the book yet, but so far I find it a worthwhile read.
It is comforting to know that the author is well versed in the whole of Greek history, not just the standard classics. Her references to all historic periods as well as to recent Greek literature and religion provide a more comprehensive view of the Greek temperament than most books about modern Greece (eg, the disappointing Eurydice Street by Sofka Zinovieff).
It's a pity that the author doesn't provide adequate autobiogra...more
David
This book is a study of Greek culture and not a travelogue. The author uses her knowledge of the Greek language to reveal the polytheist and historical roots of Greece. She doesn't sugarcoat it but stays objective, and even when treated as a sex object she doesn't hate but rather seeks to understand the mythos involved. The author is a poet, and some of her descriptions rise to the level of poetry.
She seeks to comprehend the spiritual and the mythic at a level foreign to the western mind, and i...more
Elizabeth
I loved this book. It was a healing balm to my soul. I read it while in Crete, and it's stories let me know that *I was not crazy*....that my reactions to some of the things I was seeing and hearing and feeling were not out of the ordinary. Greek folks can be very entertaining....they are very, very hospitable, but sometimes that very hospitality becomes stifling. You *have to* accept that hospitality! In the way the host is giving it! You have an obligation!

I have looked for more books like th...more
Annie
I couldn't finish the book. I did, however, learn something, though: after reading the parts I managed to read, I never want to go to Greece. Such rude, backward, pathetic people.
As for the writing, well...lots and lots of forays into ancient literature, mythology and history. Unfortunately, they were an adjunct to some point the author was trying to make, and for me, the forays were uninteresting (what a lost opportunity!), and the points the author was making were lost in the tangled mess. I...more
Christina
I have always wanted to travel to Greece, and I can't really say that that's the case anymore. The author speaks fluent Greek, had a savings, had researched living there beforehand. I only got half way through the book, but it sounded miserable. Just trying to open a bank account, the branch manager licked her passport picture. And everytime she set out to complete an errand, she was harassed by groups of men.

Perhaps it would be different with a male companion, but who wants to be constantly cha...more
Erin
This isn't a travelogue so much as an ethnography. It's a very dull travelogue, but very good compared to academic writing.
Penny Cipolone
An interesting look at Greece viewed as a palimpsest - yesterday and today overlaid. Probably a more enjoyable read if you have actually been to Greece (I have) and can identify with some of the settings.
Sphinx Feathers
This book was well written, but a bit longer than it needed to be. The descriptions were spectacular, but at times the book delved much too deeply into history without being as personable as many travel narratives are. As a result the book is quite dry making it difficult to keep reading without stopping. Because of this, it took me much longer than it should have to finish this book even though I enjoyed the language she used to describe what she was seeing.
Julie
Sep 10, 2008 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who love Greece
Shelves: travel-lit
Interesting, dense, thoughtful book. Gives the reader a taste of Greek history, culture, modern life, and religion. Well written. It was written in the mid-90s, so there is an interesting historical context at play here, too, with the pending crisis in nearby Baltic dates, Greece just joining the E.U., and 9/11 being far in the future. Too bad that more travel essay books aren't written like this anymore.
Ava
Aug 06, 2009 Ava added it
Good geography and history lessons in this book as well as lots of stories about Greek culture: belief in dream symbolism and the belief that women are inferior to men.... I wasn't interested in any of that, but I did finish the book so that I can discuss it at the Mediterranean Book Club meeting. Otherwise, I would have bailed half way through this one.
Liza
One of the best books about contemporary greece, very insightful and empathetic. It does occasionally suffer from the common american syndrome of knee-jerk anti-communism; I got the feeling it was when she was reporting something she heard, rather than her own personal observations, because usually her analyses (as well as her history), were pretty spot-on.
jen8998
Storace's collection of essays about Greece is interesting in places and dense in others. Full of intriguing observations about Greek culture and troubling revelations about Greek attitudes towards women. Ironically, this travelogue reduced my interest in visiting Greece greatly.
Zoe Jussel
One reviewer echo'd my thoughts. Patricia Storace is extremely smart and can be extremely boring and that is how I found this book. Mired in boring minutia and let me tell you, I can't remember ever not finishing a book having to do with travel, but bye bye Persephone.
mim
I enjoyed this book very much. The writing was really beautiful. Her descriptions of the people, places, food, languages, and culture was wonderful. I would recommend this book to anyone who's been to Greece, things they want to visit Greece, or just likes to read travel essays.
Lillian
This book has always stuck with me - remembering the way myths were woven in with a yearlong adventure. Totally loving the reoccuring Persephone and the pomegranate. This book is like a romanticized nostalgic memory of an adventure that I hope to have someday.
Stephanie
We read this for our food book club about the Mediterranean. We discussed it at a lovely Greek restaurant where we overindulged in everything on the table, including the dense, sweet baklava that everyone initially resisted and then gave in to.
Julie

This is an intellectual exploration of Greece and its psyche - not for the faint hearted. It covers religion, history, mythology, politics - just about everything that makes up modern day Greece. Very well done if a little heavy at times.
Amber
The author's view of Greece was a bit harsh and one-sided. I didn't get through the first chapter. It seemed like this book was going in one direction, that is painting Greeks as arrogant people who look down on foreigners.
Adrianne
Reading the blurb that this is the poet-author's first novel makes it all make sense. It's written with beautiful imagery, but no plot or character development. Without that, I got bored and wasn't able to keep reading.
Yannis
Μας κανει ρομπες, τους Ελληνες, αλλα με τοσο απολαυστικα υποκειμενικη αληθεια. Βεβαια πολλα εχουν αλλαξει απο τοτε που γραφτηκε το βιβλιο. Θα ειχε ενδιαφερον να γραψει και το Post persephone Pt.2 (αν αντεχει).
Renee
Aug 13, 2009 Renee marked it as abandoned
I found this to be a dull miserable book. Perhaps the greeks are as awful at times as she represents but there was nothing in her story that either interested me or compelled me to turn the next page.
Roberto
A great introduction to greek costumes and way of living though I found it a little bit outdated as it was written almost twenty years ago. But Patricia Storace is a great writer without any shadow of doubt
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