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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

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  404 ratings  ·  64 reviews
After falling in love with an incredible view John Mole found himself owning a pile of stones and 20 years of goat dung. With no water, electricity or even a road his family were unamused. This is the warm and funny story of the Mole family's dream of making a home in a whitewashed island house with a blue door near a beach and a taverna, and ending up in a tumbledown ruin ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 20th 2004 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing (first published 2004)
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3.66  · 
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 ·  404 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Jul 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just returned from a very enjoyable vacation! This book took me back home, back to one of my homelands, always remaining so very close to my heart. Felt the sun, heard τζιτζίκια (cicadas), tasted feta, olives, sipped ouzo and retsina and devoured souvlakia and κοκορέτσι. So my rating might be bias but it is a great story filled with funny and more serious stories, all of them full of laughter. Very enjoyable and easy read with some profoundly accurate observations: “One of the first lessons of l ...more
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Simply hilarious but also managing to portray accurately and vividly the Greek countryside of the years between 1970 and 1980.
Apr 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Lindsay Harrison
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've just finished reading this while travelling Greece. It is wonderfully evocative of the time I first started visiting Greece, a Greece that is getting harder to find now. Parts were wonderfully and hilariously familiar, other parts were informative or solved a few mysteries for me. It is an easy read, ideal for holidays and very honestly written. In places it is surprisingly funny and had me chortling out loud on a ferry! I would have loved a few photos, in addition to the small ones on the ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Since I lived in Crete for a couple of years in the early 1970's, I could relate to the author's love of Greece and I could understand the complexity of working and living across cultures. I did not give this delightful story a higher score because Mr. Mole insisted on constantly identifying the local characters with adjectives. Perhaps this is part of his humorous style of writing, but after a few chapters, I found it a bit annoying.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I bought this book in a book store on Paros island, Greece, while on holiday. What a find! The tale of a city slicker English family trying to restore a rambling Greek house (read ruin) in rural Greece is laugh out loud funny. From negotiating with Greek contractors to mucking out two decades of goat manure, John and his family endure many adventures on the road to having a house in the country. I really enjoyed this!
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure, 0wn, travel
Travel/memoir books are among my all time favorites. Does anyone have any to recommend?
It isn't always feasible for one to travel but I get out my maps and a large clear space on a table with my book and away I go.
John Mole keeps you chuckling through the escapades of his family. Now if I could bring home the smells, sounds, and culture AS WELL AS the FOOD of course, I'd be all set. READ THIS BOOK WITH ENJOYMENT!!
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book, mainly because it reminded me of when I first came to Greece in 1966 and that's how things were ! It brought back many memories, loved the story about the dog ! Would recommend it to anyone interested in life in Greece for that period 1970's!
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is about an English family that decides to renovate an old house on an island in Greece. (Similar to Peter Mayle - in France). The writing is informative, education and hilarious. Highly recommend.
James Lang
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entertaining travelogue about an Englishman and his wife and four children who buy a dilapidated house in the Greek countryside. Nothing too profound here, but it was an enjoyable read on a plane ride home from Greece!
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully entertaining account of a British family in Greece and the father's adventures in restoring an old house with the advice and assistance of a colorful cast of Greek neighbors. It should be in the expat travel pantheon of Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes (but even funnier.)
Janet Ellis
Having visited Greece a number of times and met so many interesting characters on our visits, I hoped this book would be a way of reliving some of our experiences. It was however, all too predictable and the humour not particularly funny. A great shame; just not the book for me.
Dan Harding
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fabulous. Full of that self-deprecating humour so beloved of British humorists, shot through with wisdom and moments of asthma-inducing hilarity. Terrific.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fun light read.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Entertaining book, perfect for reading on a (Greek) beach. Provides insight into the Greek way of being and is full with funny anecdotes and some history.
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Philip Whiteland
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really well written memoir which manages to avoid the 'don't foreigners do the funniest things' trap by demonstrating a real appreciation and understanding of a culture and people. You might sometimes shake your head in wonder at the choices made by the author, but you have to give full marks for determination and grit! Do be warned, there are some rather gruesome accounts related to getting your food from an agricultural perspective (to put it politely) but this all ties in with the d ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Mark Haberfield
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly entertaining and amusing read with the added bonus of feeling that reading this book was also educational in modern Greek language and culture plus some ancient Greek history and mythology. I would recommend this book to anyone who liked Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence" or Bill Bryson travel books. Despite the title, the mad dog is fortunately a small part of the book, which was hard to put down and I was sorry when I reached the end!
Kwame Webb
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read this, my wife and I had just moved into our newly built house in Molyvos, Lesvos. So many of his experiences had direct parallels to our house building experience, and we laughed until we cried.

I loved the style and would recommend to all who love Greece or are just dreaming of a new life abroad.
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
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".
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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.
“One of the first lessons of life in Greece is that everything is difficult and nothing is impossible.” 3 likes
“It was my first dead body and I waited for the appropriate feelings. I didn't know what feelings to expect, which was worse than realising that I had none.” 1 likes
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