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The Embroiderer

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Set against the mosques and minarets of Asia Minor and the ruins of ancient Athens, 'The Embroiderer' is a gripping saga of love and loss, hope and despair, and of the extraordinary courage of women in the face of adversity.

1822: During one of the bloodiest massacres of The Greek War of Independence, a child is born to a woman of legendary beauty in the Byzantine monaste
Kindle Edition, 433 pages
Published November 5th 2014 by SilverWood Books
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  187 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Nov 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, spy, war, 2015
Beginning with an interesting period of history ( the Greek War of Independence) this novel follows the fortunes of a family of women through the years.

I enjoyed the historical detail of the novel and found it really interesting and enlightening. The conflict between the Greek and Turkish people was an aspect that I knew very little about, nor was I overly familiar with the role of Greece during the world wars.

I would have rated the novel more highly but I found the beginning of the novel quite
David Baird
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I feel very lucky to have been offered the chance to review this book, I absolutely loved it.

For the most part the book focuses around Sophia, who came across as a very powerful character who has to deal with so much pain throughout her life… but there’s so much more to the book. It’s covers multiple generations and sometimes you are left with tit bits of information which light is shed onto later in the book. It made this book a fascinating read to say the least.

I felt a lot of time went into t
Marjory McGinn
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel by Kathryn Gauci which has a breath-taking narrative stretching over two centuries from the Greek War of Independence, the Greco/Turkish war of the 1920s to the Second World War. It would be a tall order for any writer to bring these tumultuous periods into sharp focus and make them clear and entertaining, but it's a massive achievement for a first-time novelist. Gauci succeeds in this by weaving her vast story through the lives of three generations of intri ...more
Elise McCune
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love historical fiction this is a beautifully written novel. The story is about a Greek family from the middle of the 19th century to the late twentieth century. The Embroiderer covers both world wars and is set against the backdrop of the Greek War of Independence.

The novel, from the massacre on Chios through to the end of WWII in Greece, portrays three remarkable women: Dimitra, her granddaughter Sophia and Sophia’s granddauther Eleni.

Kathryn Gauci was born in England and lived in Athe
David Huntley
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review of “The Embroiderer”
It took me a while to read this book. Not because it was uninteresting, or difficult to follow, or badly written. On the contrary, each and every page or chapter either opened a new or a continuing saga of a family as its history stretched across the period of Asia Minor from 1865 through to post world war 2.

The interruptions which caused me to pause my reading were in fact positive reinforcements of history I had just learned and given me time to think about the imp
Sandra McKenna
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extremely moving story.

I was thoroughly embroiled in this magnificent story of six generations of women spanning from 1822 to 1973.
Set in Turkey and Greece, it tells of the atrocities of war, the bonds of family, love and loss, and also of betrayal and deceit.
So very well written and researched, this is a book I would highly recommend.
Alan Hamilton
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I looked at and opened the book, my reaction was ‘It’s a saga. Not the kind of book I normally read’. What a lesson I had. The adage, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, in my case is replaced by, ‘don’t judge a book by its blurb or its publicity’.
As I read it, it did everything the best novels should do.
Even though the story spreads across much of the nineteenth and three-quarters of the twentieth centuries, the pace does not flag, you keep turning the pages, you’re not inclined to skip who
Effrosyni Moschoudi
I love historical fiction set in Greece and Asia Minor, and this book was not just a fine specimen in my opinion, but one of the best and most memorable books I've ever read in this genre. If you loved 'Birds Without Wings' by Louis de Bernières, this is unmissable! I was amazed by the intricate detail in the author's descriptions of all different eras and places. I can only imagine the kind of thorough research this feat must have taken. The story was both compelling and enchanting, and I parti ...more
David Ebsworth
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Kathryn Gauci’s début novel – but I would never have known that from the writing and telling of her tale. It occurred to me, instead, that if Tolstoy had been able to produce a historical fiction based on the complex relationships between Greeks and Turks during the final days of the Ottoman Empire, it would have very much resembled The Embroiderer.

The action moves smoothly between carefully woven images of Chios, Constantinople, Smyrna and Athens; from the ravages of the Greek War of In
Pamela Rogers
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Glittering tapestries are woven throughout the lives of four generations of women in this engrossing novel. (The introduction and historical notes are not to be missed!) In the Prologue, we witness lovely Greek Artemis giving birth to a baby girl in the Monastery of Nea Moni on Chios amidst the horror of the massacre by the Turks. The baby's life is the only one saved. Fast forward to Eleni, a gallery owner in London 1972 who knows little about her ancestors, until she is called frantically to h ...more
Yvonne Payne
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ottoman Crete is a special interest of mine so I looked forward to reading this novel expecting to enjoy it. What I'd not expected was to learn so much new information woven into a wonderful story, with harsh realities and beautiful descriptions, that kept me engrossed from start to finish. The only problem was that I read it too greadilly so I need to go back for another read in the future to pick up on even more of the delicate interwoven strands. For now I'm left with a burning need to inhale ...more
Eleanor Sapia
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kathryn Gauci's debut novel, 'The Embroiderer' is phenomenal. A story of love, loss, despair, and women's courage in the face of adversity, the characters immediately had my full attention, and continued to pull me in right to the end. Meticulously researched, and a joy to read, this book will appeal to historical fiction lovers who are looking for an exotic setting. I highly recommend this book. ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Michener, one of my favorite authors, could have written a tale set in an Ottoman world, for he was fond of complex human identities and even spoke of the Golden Men in his best-selling novel, Hawaii. Kathryn Gauci's The Embroiderer has much of the Golden Men in it - but here though, we should speak of Golden Women. Eleni Stephenson, the first woman we meet, is after all an impressive blend of Greek, French, Russian and English. Meanwhile, her Greek heritage bears an undeniable Ottoman inf ...more
May Panayi
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an amazing saga through the modern history of Greece and the conflicts suffered by its people, including those with Turkey and Germany. But it's so much more than that. The characters are well developed and very real, I engaged so much with their tale. I am a confirmed Grecophile anyway, but this book just deepened my love. Filled with familiar sights flavours and sensations, I had trouble putting it down. It is a massive read and a little more pricey than most in its genre- but wel ...more
Margaret Halliday
A mammoth historical read

This book spans around 150 years, including the Balkan Wars and the First and Second World Wars, in particular the effect on Greece and Turkey. It’s a fascinating read which follows a Greek family of embroiderers through these turbulent times. Romance, murder and betrayal abound and the writing brings it all vividly to life.
Jenny Greenwell
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read book. Thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. Easily explained even for the novice reader. I just loved the characters in this book, very well depicted by the author
Lauren Gilbert
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book. I could not put it down. Extremely well written, about fascinating characters set in historical times and places of immense interest.
S.C. Karakaltsas
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful family epic stretching across 150 years in Turkey and Greece. The history was rich with strong female characters notably from the one family across four generations. I'd never read about the fall of the Ottoman Empire and it gave me a much broader understanding of that entire region. The author has done a great job weaving in suspense and drama with a climactic ending.
Mrs I Landless
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I felt l learnt a great deal about the torturous relationship between Turkey and Greece. I became a member of Sophia's family and lived through everything with her. It is a very absorbing book with many twists and turns from beginning to end.
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating story set in a historical period that is rarely used in historical novels.
Janice Richardson
A brilliant work, a complex, captivating and compelling story. Historical fiction fans will long remember this family saga. This tale of war waged through generations has much to teach us. This is not a quick read, and it is hard to put down.
Viviane Crystal
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those who love a grand family saga, The Embroiderer will more than satisfy your love of the genre. To begin with, we meet Dimitra, a strong, old-fashioned woman who raises strong daughters. Dimitra’s past remains a secret until the very end of this novel but what is depicted before that astonishing finale is more than worth the wait!
Dimitra is the talented embroiderer, weaving together Turkish and Greek textile materials into designs that elicit awe in the beholder, all marked with a small,
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
It's 1972, and Eleni is summoned to her dying aunt's bedside in Athens. Her aunt wants to come clean about Eleni's family history and recounts a shocking life, full of secrets, loss, war, betrayal, death, love and espionage.

The tale takes us as far back as 1822, during the The Greek War of Independence, and essentially follows one particular family and their efforts to survive the conflicts, keep their business going and stay alive in turbulent times.

My understanding of these conflicts is not as
Barbara Lamplugh
This novel covers a period of Turkish/Greek history I was very hazy about and brings it to life through the story of several generations of women in one particular family. The writing is rich in descriptive detail and the characters are well-drawn and consistent so that I felt involved with them and what they were going through. I got a bit confused at times because there were so many characters but this was partly due to my reading it over a long period of time. Although there are chunks of 'hi ...more
June Mercieca
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading The Embroiderer by Kathryn Gauci.Read this in 2 reads.It is set in Turkey and Greece from 1822-1975. Prior to reading this book I knew little about the women of this era.The book contains fascinating information about the art of embroidery but also contains details of the harsh realities of war in these times especially on womens lives.I knew little of these areas of the world and enjoyed every page of this interesting, believeable book. June Mercieca.
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From Chios to Smyrna to Constantinople to Athens

Author's note in describing the refuge areas of Athens today,
"And whilst women no longer spill out of their doorways sitting on rush-bottomed chairs chatting to their neighbours whilst embroidering cloth for their daughter’s dowry, and basement shops selling bric-a-brac and musical instruments from the ‘old world’ are few and far between, if we look closer, the history and the spirit of these people still resonates in their everyday lives; in their
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I enjoyed the story, tracing family histories through generations of turbulent historical times.
On the other, I often felt like I was reading a history book with moments of drama interspersed. Particularly in the early part of the book I found the factual listings of the various wars mind numbingly boring.
That is my main gripe with this book- it is descriptive. There is little character development or sense of being drawn into the intimate li
J. Victoria
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The historical and cultural scope of The Embroiderer, debut novel by Kathryn Gauci, makes this book an important and compelling read. In western culture we have studied the great wars and a number of regional ones, but few of us would know anything of the Greek War of Independence, and later, the massive exchange of population between Greece and Turkey. Millions were expelled leaving behind everything they owned and loved.
Using her extensive knowledge of this history, Ms Gauci has embroidered fo
H.M. Holten
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfolding an Enigmatic World
A prophecy haunts Greek-born and Turkish raised Dimitra Lamartine to such a degree that she can’t love her grandchild, Maria. Her red hair and unruly character become the Ariadne thread that leads through the maze of this tapestry of paintings, couturiers, embroideries, and priceless jewels. In the darker parts, war and violence takes over, as well as fire, murder, and secrets. On her deathbed, Maria reveals her past to Eleni, her half-sister.
The luxury and dizzying
Jo-anne Himmelman
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical journey through centuries has opened a whole new area of historical reading.

As a novice to the Greek War of Independence and the Ottoman Empire, it took me awhile to gather my head around the history and the characters. I had to keep going backwards instead of forward to get my facts straight. A glossary of characters with a short overview of their relationship with other characters would have made a real difference. Once I had accumulated the facts and became involved in the sto
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