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The House by the River

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The first novel by acclaimed Greek writer Lena Manta to appear in English translation, The House by the River is an intimate, emotionally powerful saga following five young women as they realize that no matter the men they choose, the careers they pursue, or the children they raise, the only constant is home.

Theodora knows she can’t keep her five beautiful daughters at home forever—they’re too curious, too free spirited, too like their late father. And so, before each girl leaves the small house on the riverside at the foot of Mount Olympus, Theodora makes sure they know they are always welcome to return.

A devoted and resilient mother, Theodora has lived through World War II, through the Nazi occupation of Greece, and through her husband’s death, and now she endures the twenty-year-long silence of her daughters’ absence. Her children have their own lives—they’ve married, traveled the world, and courted romance, fame, and even tragedy. But as they become modern, independent women in pursuit of their dreams, Theodora knows they need her—and each other—more than ever. Have they grown so far apart that they’ve forgotten their childhood house in its tiny village, or will their broken hearts finally lead them home?

543 pages, Paperback

First published May 2, 2007

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About the author

Lena Manta

22 books262 followers
Librarian Note: This is the name variant in the Latin alphabet. See the author's profile in Greek: Λένα Μαντά.

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5 stars
7,173 (36%)
4 stars
6,381 (32%)
3 stars
4,093 (20%)
2 stars
1,462 (7%)
1 star
747 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,317 reviews
Profile Image for Beverly.
806 reviews292 followers
September 3, 2018
It started out well, I especially enjoyed the story about the strong, resourceful mother with small daughters outwitting and hiding from the Nazis during WW 2 with their father away serving in the military. The Greeks suffered much under their occupation, but unfortunately that was a tiny part of the narrative. The father comes home and vanishes from the picture complements of a rusty nail and the mother, Theodore and 5 beautiful daughters must survive on their own. We are told of their extreme loveliness over and over. God help you if you were born ugly!

The 5 girls, beautiful and young, quickly get the hell out of their tiny Greek village to pursue old rich men, one as an actor, another as a singer, because statistically, one out of 5 girls in a family are destined to be great at these careers. Is this a fairy tale? No, I've read fantasy with more verisimilitude.
Fast forward twenty years later, all the girls have become wanton because if you like sex, it's a given, also they've all lost their husbands or lovers,and even their male children, because of God's punishment for being wanton?
I don't know why I finished it, because I really wasn't enjoying it, especially the daughters ' stories.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books566 followers
July 26, 2018
This was a freebie from Amazon for World Book Day. I was in the mood for a novel set in another country and was looking forward to Greece. However, it was a DNF at 15%. I was hoping to get lots of descriptions of the city, the food, and the intricate details of a small Greek village. Instead, I got many older men falling in love with young girls. It starts with Gerasimos, a 47-year-old man who decides to die rather than lose his leg, which became infected from stepping on a nail. He’s stubborn and ignores the infection and dies from it. Then the story flashes back to a twenty-seven-year-old Gerasimos, grooming, wups strike that, I mean romancing a twelve-year-old girl, Theodora. Gerasimos waits patiently for her to turn eighteen and then they marry and have five daughters. The story starts to get interesting when war breaks out, but there is so much telling. I realize this is meant to be a multi-generational, sweeping novel, but much of what I read was told through narration. I just couldn’t get into the story or characters. The daughters begin marrying off one by one, usually by an older man that sees them once and is smitten by their beauty and despite appearances, love conquers all, you know. My guess is that things will not turn out well with all of these marriages, but I'll never know.

Anyway, maybe I gave up too soon, but I just couldn’t continue with so much high-level narration. I don’t really think my issues were due to the English translation, and maybe the story settles into a deeper level at some point. Author Lena Manta has her moments, like the introduction, where we have some wonderful descriptive language and insights. But unfortunately, those are too few and far between for me. I didn’t give up because of the plot or themes, simply because I was never pulled into the story or characters. I don’t give up on many books, but I have too long of a TBR list. Bummer.
Profile Image for mary.
295 reviews
April 5, 2016
Έχω την εντυπώση πως αυτό είναι ένα από τα χερότερα βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει ποτέ!Έχουμε πέντε αδερφές η μια χειρότερη από την άλλη όλες συμπτωματικά καταφέρνουν να ζήσουν μέσα στα πλούτη και τη χλιδή να βρουν εκατό άνδρες που να πέφτουν στα πόδια τους και όλες μα όλες να χάσουν παιδιά συζύγους κτλ.Περίμενα ότι κάθε ιστορία θα είχε κάτι ξεχωριστό, ότι κάθε αδερφή θα είχε να μας πει κάτι διαφορετικό αλλά όλες είχαν τόσο τρομακτικά ίδια σενάρια,με μόνη διαφορά λίγο την τέταρτη, που ειλικρινά βαρέθηκα τη ζωή μου.Ακόμη και η μικρότερη που πήγε στην Αμερική και ήλπιζα ότι μπορεί να ασχοληθεί με σπουδές γιατί αγαπούσε το διάβασμα κατέληξε σε παντρολογήματα και έρωτες.Οφείλω να του το αναγνωρίσω πως κυλάει πολύ γρήγορα αλλά νομίζω πως αυτό συμβαίνει επειδή είναι τόσο κακογραμμένο και βιαστικό που δεν σου αφήνει απολύτως τίποτα.Δεν νομίζω πως η κυρία Μαντά έκανε έρευνα ούτε για την εποχή που τοποθετεί ην ιστορία ούτε για τα μέρη στα οποία αναφέρεται αφού το μόνο που κάνει είναι να περιγράφει ερωτικές σκηνές και ακριβά σπίτια και δεν καταφέρε με κανέναν απολύτως τρόπο να με ταξιδέψει κάπου.Δεν θα καταλάβω ποτέ γιατί το ελληνικό αναγνωστικό κοινό έκανε αυτό το βιβλίο μπεστ σελλερ και αν αυτό ειλικρινά θωρείται το καλύτερο της κυρίας Μαντάς φαντάζομαι πως θα είναι τα υπόλοιπα!
Profile Image for Lisa.
623 reviews237 followers
October 7, 2018
A emotional and poignant Greek family saga following five young women as they pursue their dreams, only to realize their home by the river is a healing place.

Life was simple in the house by the river at the foot of Mount Olympus in Greece. Theodora and the tall, handsome Gerasimos kept goats and chickens and a vegetable garden in the years preceding World War ll. And during this time they have five bright, beautiful and talented daughters: Melissanthi, Julia, Aspasia, Polyxeni, and Magdalini. Gerasimos faces an unfortunate death during the war and Theodora must use her wits and fortitude to keep her daughters fed and safe during the German occupation.

One by one, each of her daughters leaves home to pursue her dream for a future far away from the remote and simple village life. But before they go, Theodora takes each of them down to the river and assures them that when times get tough, they are always welcome to come back home again. She assures them that the river will wash away whatever trials and tribulations they may encounter. The storied life of each daughter is told independent of the others. Some marry and have children, some have careers and become famous, others follow their husbands around the world and enjoy wealth, and some experience loss and tragedy. They are all beautiful, independent women in the pursuit of their dreams far away from the house by the river.

“Life is like the river that flows in front of us. It carries you easily with it and pulls you wherever it’s going. And a river doesn’t come back. If it takes you way, you can’t come back. Always be careful of the river… make sure it doesn’t carry you away.“

Can you imagine having five daughters? Talk about drama! THE HOUSE BY THE RIVER is a riveting and delightfully entertaining saga that will grab you from the start. I listened to the Audible version which is over eighteen hours long. Many a night I would find myself staying awake late into the night. It was just to good to turn off...just 15 more minutes again and again! The writing was absolutely spell-binding and the character development superb. The chronicles of each the daughters lives were riveting, and busting with drama. My all-time favorite part of this book was when Theodora threw an memorable fit with Gerasimos and demanded that their daughter be educated. They were the very first girls in the village to go to school. Anyone who likes intricate family drama would like this epic novel, which spans over four decades.

Lena Manta has written thirteen books This is the first novel by the acclaimed Greek writer to appear in English translation. She was born in Istanbul, Turkey, to Greek parents. She moved to Greece at a young age where she now lives with her husband and two children on the outskirts of Athens.
Translator Gail Holst-Warhalf
Narrator Courtney Patterson
Publisher Brilliance Audio
Publication November 1, 2017.

For more reviews www.bluestockingreviews.com
Profile Image for Ann.
42 reviews1 follower
December 3, 2017
I kept reading and reading thinking this book would get less melodramatic. But it got worse. Totally soap opera type plots that are in no way believable. Dialogue that is unreal. Repetitive descriptions- how is it that each of the 5 sisters “suddenly “ realized they were bored? Story lines that were begun left unfinished. Yikes. I’m almost angry this book was so long and took up so much of my reading time.
Skip this if you have a low tolerance for sappy, over the top stories that make your eyes roll.
Profile Image for Ismini.
33 reviews19 followers
July 5, 2017
Αντικειμενική ούτως ή άλλως δεν μπορώ να είμαι καθώς δεν μου αρέσουν τα αισθηματικά μυθιστορήματα, ωστόσο αν έπρεπε να το περιγράψω με μία λέξη θα έλεγα
Απόλυτα και αφόρητα κλισέ, με μια παλιομοδίτικη, απαρχαιωμένη νοοτροπία που μπορώ να πω πως αν ήταν έστω και λίγο καλογραμμένο αυτό το βιβλίο θα με θύμωνε. Αλλά ούτε αυτό δεν κατάφερε να κάνει. Ένιωσα πως δεν με αφορά καθόλου. Μυθιστόρημα που βρίθει από επαναλήψεις και στερεότυπα, διαβάζεται γρήγορα ακριβώς επειδή δεν λέει απολύτως τίποτα.
Σε κάθε περίπτωση οφείλω να αναγνωρίσω στη συγγραφέα την τεράστια εμπορική της επιτυχία, γιατί αν και πολλοί γράφουν τέτοιου είδους βιβλία, ελάχιστοι έχουν την αναγνωρισιμότητα και την εμπορικότητα της Λένας Μαντά. Αυτό σημαίνει πως κάτι καλό κάνει έστω κι αν εγώ επιμένω να μην το αντιλαμβάνομαι. Γούστα είναι αυτά...
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,164 reviews511 followers
January 22, 2019
This is the story of a mother with her five daughters and their lives. It is a family saga built around the sisterhood of women, supporting and caring for each other.

Kyria Theodora lost her caring, wonderful husband, Gerasimos, when he refused to have his leg amputated. "My soul will be crippled if I lose my leg," he said, and then just died.

It left her with five head-strong, iron-willed daughters to take care of on a small piece of land, nestled against Mount Olympus in Greece. In alternating chapters, each daughter's story, and destiny, is told with much insight into human behavior and pain of loss in each daughter's life. However, the ending is happy.

It is a light read, but with darker moments in each women's life.

My grudge: Although the book is about love and bonding, I found the inclusion of so many protagonists ambitious, in the sense that it resulted in too little detailed descriptions, to many issues addressed, and too long a narrative. There was a feeling of rush in the flow of the tales. I did a little bit of speed reading on some sectors, the book is after all 546 pages of somewhat predictable outcomes. Judging from the Amazon reviews, this author is well-loved and highly popular. If I did not prefer my books to have a lot more meat to the bones, I would have enjoyed it more. Too cliched, sorry. Too boringly repetitive.

It was perhaps not the right time to read this book. However, I enjoyed the descriptions of the environment, the little bit of Greek culture thrown in, and the idea behind it. The book contains enough intimacy between husbands and wives to make it a chick-lit delight, although not as intense as some folks would prefer it.

Not a bad read, but sadly not for me.
649 reviews4 followers
October 12, 2017
This family saga started out quite promising, but it was the same story told five times. It made me wonder how two matriarchs who were solidly grounded raised such self-focused daughters. That disappointed me no end.
Profile Image for Vaso.
1,139 reviews147 followers
March 23, 2016
Μπορώ να καταλάβω τις 5 αδελφές που ήθελαν να φύγουν από το χωριό τους, γιατί κι εγώ από επαρχία κατάγομαι… Όλοι έχουν δικαίωμα στο όνειρα, και αυτά τα κορίτσια το προσπάθησαν… ν’ αγγίξουν το όνειρό τους. Μπήκα στη θέση των ηρωίδων, έκλαψα, θύμωσα, αγάπησα, πληγώθηκα, αλλά, όπως κι εκείνες, κατάλαβα ότι το λιμάνι μας είναι η μητέρα μας και ότι είναι η μόνη που θα μας καταλάβει, θα μας συμπονέσει, και στο τέλος ίσως βρει τη δύναμη να μας συγχωρέσει. Εκπληκτικό βιβλίο! Άλλωστε δεν περίμενα κάτι λιγότερο από εσάς κυρία Μαντά…
Profile Image for Siria.
1,796 reviews1,308 followers
August 2, 2018
Greece's hottest village is the homeplace of the characters in The House by the River! This book has everything: aliens wearing meat suits and pretending they really can act like humans, racism, the dialogue that reads like it had been copied and pasted from one of those 1970s' BBC daytime soaps where the sets were so cheap they wobbled every time an actor opened a door, the Mafia, misogyny, eroticised marital rape, Nazis, gaslighting, dead babies, so many dead babies, supposedly smart women acting like insipid idiots, A CHARACTER KILLED BY A POISONED BLOW DART.

If you read the preceding paragraph in a voice like Stefon from an SNL sketch, congratulations: you now already are aware of the level of sheer lunacy and incompetence with which this book was written. The difference between this book and a Stefon sketch though (apart from the fact that this has a lot more heterosexuality going on) is that a Stefon sketch is actually enjoyable.

The more I read this book, the angrier and more incredulous that I got. This is the dreck that Amazon chose to promote World Book Day as an example of great world literature?

Profile Image for Brittany Howell-Blaszczyk.
13 reviews1 follower
October 9, 2017
This is one of the best books ive read in A LONG TIME!!!!!!! This book is so captivating!!! I got it with my KindleFirst choice on Amazon and I do NOT regret it at all!!!! I wasn't sure how it would be when I read the description but it pulled me in from beginning to end. It has a lot of character development as well which I love and it also has multiple points of view which I also am a fan of as well. Would highly recommend!!!
Profile Image for James.
9 reviews
December 15, 2019
Wonderfully captivating

I loved this book from start to finish. Recently I moved back to my small hometown and felt myself drawn to this powerful story of these women who no matter their life journeys always had their roots pulling them back. I laughed and cried and marveled at how if I hadn't had been told this was a translation, I never would have guessed. It flowed smoothly and drew me completely in.
282 reviews
November 20, 2017
It’s very long. It’s very repetitive. You know what’s going to happen. But you keep reading. And reading. And reading.
Profile Image for Cynthia Sillitoe.
580 reviews13 followers
October 9, 2017
I don't like panning books, but....at least it was free. This is one where I thought it would be 4 stars, and then I accepted it was three stars, but still interesting, and then it got bad, and then I wanted a second chance at my October free Kindle book.
Profile Image for Leslie.
507 reviews9 followers
October 12, 2017
I kind of liked this rather sweeping novel about sisters that left their village home and set out through the world because it was set against a background, Greece, that was unfamiliar to me. The situations faced by the young women were all too familiar, however, and by the time five sisters had struggled through their lives, things started feeling an old story retold. The sentimental ending was foreshadowed throughout the individual stories and the happy ever after felt sort of contrived. The fact that everyone was amazingly beautiful also felt a bit hollow. This was a monthly Amazon free selection so maybe it was just that this isn't really my kind of book.
Profile Image for Liana Chronea.
56 reviews5 followers
January 4, 2017
Έλεος παναγία μου! Ανάθεμα την απορία μου που δεν είχα διαβάσει Μαντά!
Τόση συμπυκνωμένη μ@..., ούτε εβαπορέ να ήταν!
Πού στα κομμάτια βρίσκει τόσες κοτσάνες μαζεμένες; Πιο πιθανό ν'ανοίξω κανα λύκο και να βρω μέσα γιαγιά ζωντανή ξεχασμένη από χρόνια, παρά να υπάρξει έστω ΜΙΣΗ ιστορία ανθρώπου που να μοιάζει μ' αυτές των ηρωίδων! Ο διαγωνισμός ανάγνωσης με μάρανε. Καλά να πάθω!
3 reviews
October 5, 2017
This was my free monthly book from Amazon Prime and I was very surprised at what an excellent book this was
Profile Image for Judi Easley.
1,397 reviews47 followers
January 26, 2018
The House by the River

Lena Manta

Translated by Gail Holst-Warhaft

Psichogios Publications 2007

Amazon Crossing 2017

546 pages, ebook, paperback, audiobook, MP3 CD

Women’s Lit, Family


I honestly cannot remember how I acquired this book. My Amazon account says I paid nothing for it, so it may have come from a rep or I may have gotten it on one of those sales. However, this is my honest review and I am not being compensated for it in any way. However I got the book, I am sincerely glad I did. I put off reading it because the cover didn’t entice me. Finally I decided it was time. Everything has its time. That’s sort of what this book says. That and so much more.

This book is about a woman, Theodora, who loses her husband. He steps on a nail and ends up with septicemia and won’t allow the doctor to amputate the leg. He had seen too many men with amputated legs after the war and thought they were not still men. He couldn’t accept that happening to him. So he knowingly denied treatment and died. His wife was left with five daughters to raise. Each of the daughters left in her time.

Julia was the first to leave. She meets Fokas Karapanos who was an engineer in Thessaloniki. She has severe problems with her MIL and they end up going off to build in Africa. Julia has three children including a daughter that she names for her MIL. They reconcile in letters over time. Fokas ends up getting killed.

Melissanthi is the next to leave. She meets Apostolas Fatouras, who is a tobacco plantation owner and very rich. He lives in Athens. He’s older than Melissanthi and eventually has health problems. Melissanthi can’t understand why her husband has withdrawn from her so completely and she ends up taking a lover, Angelos. She finds out about her husband’s condition. She tries to end the affair by leaving Angelos, but he finds her. She breaks off the affair again because Angelos’ mother has seen them together and demands an end to it. Angelos commits suicide. Then she discovers she is pregnant by Angelos. She tells her husband, who immediately starts acting as if nothing is wrong. This is their child and they are to be very happy about finally having a child, an heir. Things are wonderful for a few years, until Apostolos (the son) dies of a genetic defect. Within the week, Apostolos (the husband) dies also.

Aspasia is the third daughter to leave home. She meets Stavros Mantekas who lives in Larissa and is a driver for a dry goods company. Soon he gets a promotion and is the manager of a branch in Kalamata and they move.They have two daughters, Stella and Theodora. The marriage is not working out at all and Aspasia and Stavros plan to divorce. Stella dies. They divorce and Theodora is given the choice of which parent she will live with. Stavros expects her to say him, but Theodora realizes her mother needs her emotionally and she chooses to go with her mother.

Magdalini is the next to go. She leaves not with a husband, but with her Aunt Anna who has come home for a visit. Magdalini wants education, not a husband. America, where Aunt Anna lives is where she can get a good education. But there are men there, too. And Aunt Anna lives in Chicago. Magdalini meets Franco. They have two children, Charles and Theodora (Doris). Franco’s in a dangerous business which is not any business for women to have their noses in. But Magdalini isn’t the typical company wife. She’s aware of a lot of what’s going on and wants Charley, Franco’s father, and Franco out of the company. Charley sort of retires and spends lot of time enjoying his grandchildren. Then he is killed. Then Franco and their son Charles are killed.

Polynexi is the last at home. She dreams of acting and being adored by the masses. One man will not be enough for her. She runs off with a troupe of traveling players who immediately realize how lucky they are when they see what she can actually do on the stage. She’s a natural and learns from each role and from watching people. She and the only other female in the troupe leave and hook up with Martha’s friend Stathis. Martha and Stathis work on Polynexi to polish her and get her into the movies. She changes her name. She becomes the big star she dreamt of being. She acquires admirers as well, but turns them all away. One, Leonidas must have her. She reads a review that says she was no good in a love scene because she has no experience. So she accepts Leonidas to get some experience, in spite of the fact that she feels absolutely nothing for him. Even when she breaks off the relationship after a year and he commits suicide in front of her. She does eventually find one man who makes her feel something, but he has no use for her. Martha and Stathis die in a car accident. She’s at the top of her craft and she has no one.

The house by the river now only holds two old women. Julia is 80 and her daughter, Theodora does nothing but complain about how empty her house and her life are since her five daughters left her. That was years ago. Finally, Julia convinces Theodora that life does go on. Theodora renovates her mother’s house next door and also has some work done on her own house. She works in her garden and enjoys her life again for what it is. She stops complaining. She once again smiles.

The first to return is Melissanthi, alone. Then Aspasia with Theodora. And Polyxenia with Vassiliki, her maid who has become her close friend. Then Magdalini with Aunt Anna and Doris. And finally, Julia with her MIL, Hara, Evanthia, Theodora, and her African companion, Faida. The two houses by the river are again full of women and they all share their stories and their pains. Theodora and Julia have grand and great grandchildren to love and spoil now. And the five daughters are in a place where they can heal and be at peace.

I have given you a lot here, and yet I have barely given you a glimpse of what this 546 page novel has to share. The characters were all different and wonderfully created. The story with its six aspects is wonderful. The pace was easy to read, fast enough without killing you. The tension never let go because there was always something happening in the life of these women. It holds happiness, sadness, contentment, pain, devastation, success, failure, goodbyes and hellos. It is full of what life dishes out and how people may handle it all. Lena Manta offers up this story of these women and their lives and loves for our consumption. I wallowed in it. It is a wonderful read. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

Highly Recommended

Profile Image for Trudy.
532 reviews40 followers
May 2, 2018
3 Stars.......I think.
This book was so promising in the beginning. I was having such a good time, I began recommending it to my reading buds. After, about50%, however, I began sending out apologies. Talk about a good story gone bad! The story is about five sisters who are born and raised in a small country town near Mt Olympus. When they become young women, one by one each sister leaves their home town and the remainder of the book follows each sister’s journey.
So, the focus begins with the oldest sister. We learn the good, bad, and the ugly of her life. (Let’s just say, she became “bored”.To avoid spoilers, I’ll leave it here.)
Then another sister’s story unfolds. She gets “bored”, too. Now I’m confused and I’m thinking some pages from the first sister’s story got inadvertently repeated. Hmmm!
Later in the book, another “bored” sister emerges. I’m not kidding, and these chicks should never get bored!
The amount of repetition in this book is shameful! Also,many of the characters’ actions are so very unrealistic and inconsistent with the backdrop created by the author.
So, why did I give this book 3 Stars? I actually have three reasons:
#1. Because I didn’t throw it out the window. (Was tempted at one point)
#2. I read all five hundred plus pages to the very end. (Apparently kept my attention)
#3. I did enjoy the first half. (I just got very annoyed after that.)
In addition, the book had a good story framework, however it just seemed as if the author could not properly develop or control her characters. They were just running amok! LOL!
Profile Image for Janet.
350 reviews8 followers
May 1, 2018
Too long and a bit tedious

The story would have benefitted from less daughters, less lovers and a few more boys. The moral of every daughter's story is don't cheat on your husband, live according to your morals and only bad things happen when you move away from your home town. Ho-hum.
Profile Image for Gillian.
512 reviews6 followers
October 6, 2017

I absolutely loved this book. While it is not of a genre I normally read this book kept me reading from the first page to the last. I do hope that more of the author's book will be translated.
May 1, 2018
Μια φορά κι έναν καιρό ήταν το σπίτι δίπλα στο ποτάμι και οι πανέμορφες σαν οπτασία κόρες της Θεοδώρας, η Μελισσάνθη, η Ιουλία, η Ασπασία, η Πολυξένη και η Μαγδαληνή. Όλες μα όλες ανεξαιρέτως, εγκαταλειπουν τη μητρική αγκαλιά και το σπίτι τους, ανοίγοντας τα δικά τους φτερά. Στην πορεία της ζωής τους ξεχνούν παντελώς την μητέρα τους, όλοι οι άντρες πέφτουν ξεροι από την ομορφιά τους και όταν η ζωή τις τσακίζει ξαναγυρνουν ηττημένες στη μητέρα τους και το πατρικό τους. Ούτε καμία σπουδαία υπόθεση έχει αυτό το βιβλίο, ούτε χαρακτήρες να ταυτιστείς ή έστω να μισήσεις. Ρηχή ιστορία, ρηχά πρόσωπα και ποιο είναι το συμπέρασμα; Τι μας διδάσκει αυτό το μυθιστόρημα; Φάτε τα μούτρα σας, βυθιστείτε στην αμαρτία και στο τέλος λυτρωθειτε επιστρέφοντας στο πατρικό σας. Η μητέρα δε πιο εγωίστρια πεθαίνεις, καταριέται τη μοίρα της που όλες οι κόρες την έχουν αφήσει μόνη, αντί να εύχεται το καλό τους και ας είναι μακριά της. Άσε πια οι διάλογοι, ψευτικοι και ανούσιοι. Οι περιγραφές τοπίων και φύσης σχεδόν ανυπαρκτες, οι πόλεις από τις οποίες πέρασαν τα κορίτσια αναφέρθηκαν μόνο ονομαστικά. Η Μαγδαληνή σε ολόκληρο Σικάγο βρέθηκε και ούτε μια εικόνα δεν αποκτήσαμε γι'αυτο. Το βιβλίο αυτό ούτε φιλοσοφημενο ειναι ούτε κρύβει νοήματα που πρέπει να αναλύσεις ή ανθρώπους και καταστάσεις με τα οποία μπορείς να ταυτιστείς. Θα το χαρακτήριζα έτσι απλά παραμύθι που σε ξεκουράζει όταν το διαβάζεις αλλά ένα παραμύθι που δεν σου γέννα κανένα συναίσθημα. Ένα τέτοιο ανάγνωσμα εγώ δεν το θεωρώ λογοτεχνία και συγχωρείστε μου αυτή την άποψη. Με ξεκουράσε, με χαλάρωσε, αλλά ως εκει, δεν κατάφερε ποτέ να μπει στην ψυχή μου και η λογοτεχνία κάνει ακριβώς αυτό. Δυόμισι αστεράκια από εμένα.
Profile Image for Linda.
104 reviews
October 21, 2017
Im only halfway through and keep debating on whether to finish it. There are things about it that drive me crazy yet I keep reading for some reason so I'm giving it 3 stars so far. I'm reading the English translation.
It drives me crazy that it is supposed to take place in the twentieth century yet a lot of the women characters seem to continually faint! And there is much discussion about arranged marriages and dowries which might be a geographic thing. Maybe parents still liked to choose their child's spouse in Greece in 1950? I don't know. It just seems more like a late nineteenth century novel to me. I'm having a very hard time liking any of the daughters at this point. They all seem spoiled and bored with their lives... Not a happy one in the bunch! Its hard to categorize the book. My first thought was historical fiction until I realized it takes place in the mid 20th century. Then all the aggressive rather dark sex scenes made me think erotica fiction but not enough of it to classify as that either. Maybe dark romance??Its a hard book to figure out so far... and it is long....there's another fainting episode and they bring in the smelling salts...OK I'm done with this book. Definitely not what I expected or like.
Profile Image for Linda OC.
93 reviews2 followers
October 30, 2018
It was predictable and I hated the format of the book...but I loved every story within this book so much! Touching, exciting... many mixed feelings about this book but ultimately I couldn’t put it down, which is why I rated it 4/5.
Profile Image for Vichy.
677 reviews44 followers
October 8, 2013
5 κορίτσια και 5 διαφορετικές ιστορίες. (Μπορούμε να προσθέσουμε και την ιστορία των γονέων, έτσι για να τις κάνουμε 6). Το δάκρυ κορόμηλο και καμιά δεν είχε μια μέση εξέλιξη. (Γιατί τότε δε θα γράφονταν σε βιβλίο). Όλες "προόδευσαν" ποικιλοτρόπως: η Μελισσάνθη αγάπησε το χρώμα του χρήματος και σε γενικές γραμμές τα "είδε" όλα, η Ιουλία έφτασε στην Αφρική, η Ασπασία ανέβηκε στο παλκοκρέβατο, η Πολυξένη έγινε θεατρικό αστέρι και η Μαγδαληνή έφτασε στο Σικάγο και έγινε αρχιμαφιόζα. Στο τέλος όλες έπεσαν και χτύπησαν, σηκώθηκαν όμως και χτύπησαν την πόρτα της μαμάς και της γιαγιάς, και έγιναν όλοι one big happy family. Οι μεμονωμένες ιστορίες μου άρεσαν αλλά κάπου με έχασε η συρραφή του τέλους. Εκτός, κι αν θεωρήσουμε το βιβλίο ως ύμνο προς την ελληνίδα μάνα προς την οποία υποβάλλω τα σέβη μου.
Profile Image for Νατάσσα.
268 reviews70 followers
August 7, 2016
Διάβασα μόνο τις πρώτες 100 περίπου σελίδες, δεν άντεξα παραπάνω. Τόσο κλισέ, τόση βλακεία, τόσο κακή γραφή δεν έχω συναντήσει ξανά - το δανείστηκα για να μπορώ να έχω άποψη.

Αποσπάσματα - κι όχι τα χειρότερα:

«Γεράσιμε, εσύ είσαι λογικός άνθρωπος! Θα βάλουμε ξύλινο πόδι, δε θα μείνεις σακάτης! Θα ζήσεις μια φυσιολογική ζωή κοντά στη γυναίκα σου και στα παιδιά σου!» εξήγησε ήρεμα. «Τι ζωή θα είναι αυτή, μισός άνθρωπος;» «Γεράσιμε, μισός δε γίνεσαι γιατί χάνεις ένα πόδι! Άσε με να φέρω τα εργαλεία μου και να το κόψουμε!»

[http://youtu.be/d2UcpubCWFs?t=9m25s] ..........................................

«Απόστολε, δε σε βλέπω καλά! Αν έβαλες στο μυαλό σου τίποτα πονηρό για τη μικρή που είδαμε χθες, βγάλ’ το! Το κορίτσι είναι μικρό, δεν είναι σαν αυτές που έχεις μάθει να γυροφέρνεις!» «Μα γι’ αυτό μου αρέσει, ρε φίλε! Το κορίτσι είναι αφρός!» «Αν σου αρέσει ο αφρός, πιες μια μπύρα και πάμε να φύγουμε!»


Λίγα λεπτά αργότερα, ήταν καθισμένοι οι δυο τους μπροστά στο αναμμένο τζάκι, φορώντας από ένα μπουρνούζι και κρατώντας ένα ποτήρι κονιάκ στο χέρι. Τα ξύλα τριζοβολούσαν με ήχους τρυφερούς την ώρα που καίγονταν, ενώ η βροχή μαστίγωνε τα τζάμια σαν ενοχλητικός επισκέπτης, την ίδια στιγμή που το τραγούδι της χάιδευε τ’ αυτιά των δύο ερωτευμένων σαν μουσική υπόκρουση σε μια συζήτηση που δεν είχε τελειωμό. […] Το ξημέρωμα τους βρήκε μπροστά στη φωτιά, που όλη νύχτα την τροφοδοτούσαν με ξύλα, κι εκείνη για να τους ευχαριστήσει έλαμπε αδιάκοπα, γεμίζοντας το χώρο με γλυκιά θαλπωρή. Ο ήλιος αρνήθηκε να βγει εκείνη τη μέρα κι ίσως γι’ αυτό άργησαν να πάρουν είδηση πως είχε ξημερώσει, κλεισμένοι μέσα στο ζεστό σπίτι, με τις κουρτίνες τραβηγμένες. Και ίσως να μην το καταλάβαιναν ποτέ, αν το μάτι της Μελισσάνθης δεν έπεφτε τυχαία στο ρολόι πάνω από το τζάκι. […] Ο Άγγελος έριξε πάλι ξύλα, κάθισαν στη φλοκάτη και για λίγο κοίταζαν τον αισθησιακό χορό της φωτιάς. Εκείνος στράφηκε και κοίταξε το πρόσωπό της και την ηρεμία που ήταν απλωμένη στα χαρακτηριστικά της. Έσκυψε και άφησε ένα φιλί δίπλα στα χείλη της.


«Νόμιζα ότι έκανα το σωστό…» ψιθύρισε, ενώ φορούσε το μπουρνούζι και το έσφιγγε πάνω της με απελπισία, ζητώντας την προστασία του. «Σωστό δεν μπορεί να είναι ό,τι μας ακρωτηριάζει!»

Profile Image for Sandra.
785 reviews101 followers
Shelved as 'given-up'
October 18, 2018
DNF at 12%

Too much drama and too little Greece for my taste. The dialogs are unbelievable. There was also a couple of things in the plot that I hated, for example already 3 girls of around 18 years old got married with men at least 20 years older than them. In one of the cases the love story started (although only in a platonic level) when the girl was 12. If it were only ONE case in the story, I would have taken it as "the case in the book", but three already? WTH? And there are still three single girls. I do not want to know more. I don't get what is in the author's mind. And it doesn't seem to be something usual, common or accepted for that time and place, since everyone in the book is scandalized with each marriage. It's sick. I'm done.
Profile Image for Brooke.
113 reviews
March 9, 2018
The story in The House by the River could have made for a really interesting and endearing book. However, this book was painful. To me, all the characters were shallow and unbelievable. All the emotions were over the top. The entire story was super unbelievable and juvenile. And there was soooo much love at first sight. All the daughters were beautiful and men fell in love with them within seconds of meeting them. There weren’t any deep or authentic interactions between characters. It was all so cheap fairytale-esque. That being said, I’m not sure if the issue is in the writing or the translation. Either way, I wouldn’t recommend the English translated version of this book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Pamela.
178 reviews
August 17, 2018
One of the worst books I’ve ever read. Don’t go near this garbage. Don’t trust Goodreads reviews. Read negative reviews as well as the positive to get a full picture. Waste of time and money. Characters one dimensional, formulaic story, melodramatic, too many words.
Profile Image for Cece.
160 reviews24 followers
May 4, 2018
A good book can leave you speechless. Conversely, a bad book—like this one—force feeds you rant food… I’ve just finished a 550 page feast and I’m worked up to the point of soapboxing.

I have so much to say and, like this author, I will not edit myself or pare down to just the best thoughts.

Buckle up.

I suffered the full length of this book BECAUSE I AM NOT A QUITTER. About 300 grueling pages in, I complained to a friend about how very repetitive and awful it seemed. “You’re still reading; so, is it redeemable?”


You can’t wrap a satin bow around this much shit without leaving readers feeling gyped.

I found this book because I got it for free from Amazon on Book Day. The back cover’s description was so inviting. Four stars on goodreads? Awesome! I felt like I’d gotten a real steal! Fellow readers, I was led so very far astray.

This book was just wrong. What are its top offenses?
A) The structure and timeline left me feeling so very lost. It was utterly incoherent.
B) It was repetitive like a Pop/Rock earworm that starts up every time you turn on your car radio. “THIS AGAIN?!” By the end of the second sister’s saga, I was ready to quit. But, with my friend’s impression in my head, I pressed on… hoping for some redeeming qualities to filter out of the remaining plotlines. I found none. Not one.
C) Karma’s wrath? There was such a sense of impending doom surrounding each of the sisters. It palpitated off the page. Was the lesson of this book supposed to be: Don’t leave home or all of your sons and husbands will die? These were the most fatefully flawed women in print.

I will continue my list of qualms by asking a series of (fairly obvious) questions that were overlooked or ignored by the author:

1. What are the chances that five sisters from a poor village family end up getting a fairytale treatment from absolute strangers? Come on. Astronomical, surely. Each of these girls is whisked away from their mother to a faraway place, treated like royalty and never wants for anything again. Seems a bit… unlikely. All that was missing were singing mice and 5 stray glass slippers. Really.
2. If they really hit it as big as they did, why didn’t any of them think to send money back to their mother… or even talk to her? Each of them seems to love their mother enough to name one of their daughters after her, but… in 20 years, despite their wealth and status, none of them manages to pop by and say “hi” to Ma? Really.
3. Speaking of money, why did none of them resolve to make the most of their newfound good fortune and stick to the straight and narrow? How can five people possibly make so many bad decisions in a row? Really.
4. Can we just say it frankly? Polyxeni is a psychopath. Furthermore, her character is so inconsistently written it’s a crime.
5. Also… Why does her character assume everyone will know about her breaking up with Leonidas? He killed himself IMMEDIATELY after she broke up with him. How could a cover-up be needed when the word couldn’t have gotten out? Really.
6. Is it even possible that she could be such a good actress without actually experiencing human emotion? Like, not even a single one? Really.
7. Does it really take just one week to develop a massive drinking addiction? If so, anyone who has ever gone on vacation should go straight from Arrivals to rehab. Really.
8. If she’s supposed to be so devoid of human emotion and understanding, she would have to treat everyone around her like a case study rather than a human being. And, if she doesn’t need any intimacy, why does she bother staying in touch with Martha (who is apparently conducting a long, amateur psychological experiment on her despite her professional history in acting rather than medicine!)? Again, it’s all so inconsistent it drove me nuts! Just like Polyxeni. Really.
9. If Polyxeni is so famous, how is it that none of her sisters recognize her? Mention her? Leverage her star status? Anything? Really.
10. What were all the deaths for? I could see killing off lots of people if it created drama and upheavals of power, like in GoT. This was killing for the sake of human suffering. Really.
11. Is it even possible to cover 20 years of life for 6 protagonists in the course of 550 pages? I don’t think so! (And now I know so!) This book had to move so quickly that it may be the first book with G-Force. HUGE, GUT-WRENCHING, LIFE-ALTERING moments were covered in the span of a page. I cannot cope with this. Really.
12. Was it too much work to drop a few timely references in order to remind readers of the era during which this is supposedly taking place? Between jumping back 20 years every time a new chapter started and the lack of context, this book crafted a purgatory of time. Really.
13. I feel like I don’t “know” any of these women. There was no time to get to know them, how they think, what makes them tick. This book was just a log of moral transgressions and deaths. Really.
14. Magdalini, supposedly the studious one, sure didn’t fight hard to achieve her dream of studying physics. She learned English (no small feat—it’s a wonky language) and then said, “done!” I was so disappointed when this sister’s whole story was ALSO about a relationship. Really?
15. This point could be a symptom of reading a translated copy: BUT, this book contained every bad cliché I’ve ever read. Given the less-than-adventurous plot lines, I would be more likely to assume the original Greek suffered from these same linguistic maladies. Such uninteresting reading. *exhausted eye roll* Really.
16. Speaking of word choice, if I’d heard one more girl’s libido referred to as “volcanic,” I would have thrown my copy of the book into lava. Yuck. Really.
17. Random: Theodora was a bad ass. Her struggles during WWII were fascinating and proof positive that she loved her children…. SO HOW DID SHE LET THEM GO 20 YEARS WITHOUT STALKING THEM DOWN TO CHIDE THEM?
18. Random Point Expanded: HOW THE HELL DID HER WWII STRUGGLES NOT COME UP LATER IN THE BOOK? These girls lived and struggled through WWII in very tangible ways. How did they never have to draw on those experiences or recall the horrors later on? And because these experiences don’t come up later, why did the author bother to mention them at all!? I guess because it was the only good part of the book. REALLY.

*deep breath*

In conclusion, there was ONE piece of wisdom in this book: “If you don’t suffer, you don’t learn.” I will move forward from this experience with a deeper appreciation for well-planned, compelling stories.

... And a strong aversion to volcanoes.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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