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A House in Corfu: A Family's Sojourn in Greece

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  103 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
This book is the story of Emma Tennant's parent's house, Rovinia, set above the bay in Corfu where legend has it Ulysses was shipwrecked and found by Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous. It is also the story of people like Maria, a miraculous cook and the presiding spirit of the house, and her husband, Thodoros, and of the inhabitants of the local village, high on the hill ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 1st 2003 by Holt Paperbacks (first published February 1st 2002)
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In the early sixties, the authors parents happened to be on a cruise around the mediterranean island of Corfu, when they spotted a perfect bay. On a whim they decided there and then that this was the place that they wanted to live. Having bought the land, all 43 hectares of it, they set about building a beautiful house over looking the bay.

Tennant tells of how the house was built, and her new family life split between the UK, and this peaceful idyllic place. As the UK went through dramatic socia
Sep 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
I picked up this book at Powell's because it was the skinniest piece of travel literature about a Greek island. It has been decent travel reading, but only because I can relate - I'm on a Greek island right now. I've enjoyed recognizing the cultural details that I'm experiencing, and reading about the landscapes and traditional foods while I'm able to enjoy and eat them.

I don't think this book would have been enjoyable if I was at home reading it though. None of the characters are developed, be
Jan 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"The lunch winds on, becomes an afternoon, a day, a cycle of the Greek sun. Retsina flows in glasses lent by the xenodoxeion in Paleocastritsa, and the frieze of figures around the long tables jerks into life, like early cinema. Yorgos the fisherman is dancing, silly-faced with love for the young woman who twirls at the end of his reach; two caryatids, brown-cheeked and no longer with faces whitened by limestone from the quarry in the trees behind our table, are coming up the beach from the clea ...more
Molly Westerman
I read this memoir out of interest in a particular sort of experience of Corfu, for my own writerly reasons instead of because I just wanted to enjoy a narrative of memory. For my purpose, the books was sometimes evocative and useful. It's also ... fascinatingly and sometimes frustratingly odd as a memoir and as an extended piece of narrative prose. The sentences are meant to be long and sprawling, sure, but sometimes their grammar suffers from imprecision that cannot be deliberate. Is a similar ...more
Carol Wakefield
I'm a sucker for books describing travel experiences and Life in foreign cultures. Tenants book covers many years as her parents build a house near a beach on the north eastern coast of Corfu and proceed to retire there. No water early on, no electricity for many years and no road leading to the house for even more years. Her visits from england to Corfu begin in the 50s and continue to present times. I enjoyed the picture of Corfu and of the inhabitants of the nearby village. I did not enjoy so ...more
Annette Reynolds
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written memoir of a place and time that basically doesn't exist anymore.

Yes, the author's sentences could be overly long and a tad confusing at times, but all-in-all I loved reading this book.

You got to know the people just well enough to matter; well enough to get the flavor of each character.

Maybe because I was born in Greece, and spent a lot of time there as a child and teenager, I was able to envision everything the author described. And because I speak Greek, I didn't need any f
The Library Lady
Very disappointing. Sort of a stream of conscience sort of memoir, with incident following incident. There are no explanations of the family--it took me a chapter to figure out that Tennant is a grown adult with kids of her own, and she alludes to her kids in a vague way. I couldn't tell if she had a job, lived with her parents, had a spouse or what. The parents seem charming but they are not sketched fully enough to get a sense of them.

You will get some sense of the beauty of Corfu and the sort
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Picked this one up cause Corfu is an island we are going to on our cruise. Pretty much 200 pages of description of Greek groves and sea. A very difficult book to stick with until the end, for me, for this reason. But it is exactly what is claims to be, so it delivers in that sense. What I did like was that it painted a beautiful picture of the island and got me anxious to go see such an incredible place! Would only recommend for the non fiction reader who can handle descriptive novels without a ...more
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was full of descriptive passages that nearly made me drool since I so want to visit the Mediterranean. In my present lack of enthusiasm for non-fiction, I glossed over a bit of that. I did enjoy the anecdotes about Corfiot residents and their customs. Though my family has some Greek roots (my grandfather was born there, as were my two aunts), I would hardly say we follow many Greek customs. However, some words and foods and traditions jumped out at me and I felt connected to the story.
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
She writes somewhat about a house her parents built and lived in Corfu. I say somewhat because it spans over 40 years, but there is no continuity. Except for the onslaught of noise and electricity, there is no account of how life changed on the island. There is little description of the lives of the inhabitants, with the exception of weddings. Just too little of a taste of what it could have been had it been developed more.
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After a recent trip to Corfu, my husband and I have a strong desire to go back and rent a place to stay for awhile. So this book seemed like it would be a perfect treat for me. Except that it wasn't.

The author beautifully describes the countryside, the construction of the home, and the characters who live in the community. But the difficulties with construction were the entire plot, so it never really got going.
Shonna Froebel
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Started good, but towards the end she started skipping too much.
It was also odd, that while she had children, she never mentioned a husband or father to the kids. At the end, she had a "companion", but he seemed of a more recent vintage. Never heard what was up with her siblings either, or what happened to her mother. She told of her father's death, but not her mother's.
Jen Pan
This is now amongst my favourite Greek memoirs book. It caught me by surprise because of the writing style and structure. I was expecting another ex-pat story again, full of adventure and humour, but instead of take away souvlaki I got a real sit down Greek feast. Emma's writing style is so powerful it is like reading poetry.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
This is the nineteenth book I've read this year that focused on travel. Still, I've not lost interest in this genre. What I liked best about this book was Tennant's descriptions of the water; I finally had to go to the net and see photos of the Ionian Sea. Wow. Exactly as Tennant described: a startling blue. Beautiful.
Betsy Pantazelos
Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Her voice is quiet and unobtrusive yet honest and endearing. It was a great book to escape the humdrum of Boston in winter. I became nearly unaware of other people riding the T as I was often meandering the roads of provincial Greece.
Sep 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travelogue
This book really needed photos as the writing did nothing to conjure up any pictures in my mind. I also got very little sense of the people involved. Pretty blah and the timeline was a bit disjointed.
Mimi Brooks
Apr 16, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
if ever there was a cure for insomnia....well this book is it. i consider myself an avid reader of many subjects and styles; but this, by far, was the most boring of reads i've tried to tackle in a long time. my apologies ms. tennant.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, mine, 2014
The descriptions in this book, of the islands, of the people, the food, and festivals were well written, but the book itself was a bit disjointed with not much continuity. This made it difficult to read and easy to put down.
Jul 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
A well written and delightful memoire of a family that built a house in a lovely bay on the west coast of Corfu. Wonderful summer reading.
Lucy J Jeynes
Read on holiday - in Corfu. So maybe I enjoyed it more than I might have done otherwise (normally I don't like this sort of book AT ALL...) But I liked this one.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Did not like the writing style but loved the concept
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Since the early 1970s, when she was in her mid-thirties, Emma Tennant has been a prolific novelist and has established herself as one of the leading British exponents of "new fiction." This does not mean that she is an imitator of either the French nouveaux romanciers or the American post-modernists, although her work reveals an indebtedness to the methods and preoccupations of some of the latter. ...more
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