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Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  437 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"Full of insights, marvelously entertaining . . . haunting and beautifully written."
--The New York Review of Books

"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 pe
ebook, 416 pages
Published October 19th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 31, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travel
I read this book for an uni essay about tourism, really, as this book is not really my thing. I enjoyed descriptions about the scenary and everything, and how smooth it jumped from one subject to an other. I wished I could see more of the author in it, but I guess that wasn't that bad after all. So 2 out of 5.
Stephen Shifflett
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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).
Aug 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the cultural observations. To quote from the book, "Greece's cross to bear is the Greeks." I couldn't agree more.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a travelogue so much as an ethnography. It's a very dull travelogue, but very good compared to academic writing.
Page 319 - The Dream of Love After the Dance. This chapter/essay saves the book. Beyond it (which provides a biography of Penelope Delta, tragic and important figure of Greek children's lit and language), the book more depressed than impressed. Is her recount in many ways fascinating? Sure. But does it endear me to Greece? No. In fact, though I may now have a more realistic view of the country and its people, I feel the distance between our cultures as a weight rather than an opportunity, and I ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book perplexed me. I don't have enough of a background on Greek society to know whether the stories the author told about her time in Greece were typical, and it seems ignorant of me to say she must have embellished or selected only the worst ones to share in this book, but wow. If I were treated by any man the way the author was treated by countless men within, from her telling, her first month in Greece, I would've been out of there so fast. That impression makes me want to say she must h ...more
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greece, books-i-own
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
Nov 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 04, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
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
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.
Paula Soper
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2017
Maybe 3.5. Getting ready for summer!
Alex K.
The Greece of 20+ years ago is not the same as the Greece that exists today, so some of the author's observations of Greek society and cultural norms are a bit dated. That said, speaking as a Greek-American who used to visit the Greece that the author experienced around once a year during my childhood, a lot made sense or rang true. I can't give her a total free pass; her perspective sometimes came across as being a bit bigoted culturally. In particular the episodes that she chose to recount of ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not done yet--it's rather slow going. But I like it. The author makes interesting and sometimes disturbing observations about everyday life in Greece, such as the frequency of violence against women on TV, even in sitcoms. Slapping a woman isn't seen as a big deal, even seen as a funny punch line in some cases. That tells me a LOT about Greece and Greeks right there.

Most of us not-well-schooled-in-history Americans think of Greece as something that happened in the time of Pericles and know dood
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Stone
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 27, 2016 marked it as didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
Meh. This is a beautiful book, and a very carefully written one, but it's also boring. I want to have the information Storace has to offer but I really wish there was a Cliffs Notes version because she can be so incredibly dry. I shelved the book with a bookmark in it, though, so I can pick it up later, when the Great Magnificent Library Sale isn't so close, and I'm not trying to do some overflowing stacks damage control.
Laura J
I found the story - really a journal or memoirs - too laborious. I began reading this book before my trip to Greece and finished it after I returned home: after the trip, I was better able to picture scenes the author was writing about, the streets of Athens, the landscape of the Peloponnese, etc. This book is for people who are really interested in Greek history, legend, lifestyle and customs. It offers an honest view of the nature of the Greeks.
Mar 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-challenge
there was only one chapter I enjoyed and that was a description of the life of a Greek writer. most of the rest of the book was a series of brief descriptions of a day somewhere in Greece. the language was a bit too flowery for my taste and took away from the descriptions and there was no feel for the people - everything came across as prosaic descriptions of a still life painting. it was well-written, if that's all you want, but not enjoyable to actually sit and read.
Jul 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
This is not what I wanted or expected. The writing is not terrible but it's boring. I am tuning out a lot and getting distracted by bees and whatnot.
There are a lot of references to Christianity and religion and I am just not into that stuff. I am disinterested.

I won't waste my time with something I'm not satisfied with or enjoying, next please!
John Donne
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A breathtaking and delightful take on Greece, past and present. Beautiful, evocative, thoughtful, lush with detail, observations, anecdotes. If anything, perhaps a smidgeon too rich - to be consumed in bits and nibbles, a few pages at a time.

Seems a shame Storace didn't write much more. I'd read any travel book she cares to write.
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