The Art of War: A Novel by Angela Panayotopulos is an eerie, heart-wrenching story about a pair of Greek twins in the rubble of World War Two. Kallypso (Kalli) and Gabriel (Gabe) have grown up in the Mediterranean sun and surf of the small Greek island of Mythaki. The book follows brother and sister through their idyllic childhood to their nightmarish existence under Nazi Germany.
The twins must learn that sometimes life can change with just the stroke of a mad man’s pen. The trouble begins when Mussolini decides that Greece is his next target. On Gabe’s joyous wedding day, the Italians invade the picturesque island to occupy it for their leader. Although their presence casts a dark cloud of reality over the village, it is not a soul crushing experience. The Italians and Greeks live quite happily with each other. This comfort is so complete that Kalli finds herself being wooed by an Italian soldier.
These simple days are replaced by the frightening realization that Germany creeps ever closer to their island paradise. The Art of War is a celebration of the Greek culture and the universal similarities that connect us as humans. No matter how bleak the story becomes, there are characters who can see past the symbols and skin tones we all hide behind. That is the magic of this story: humanity still manages to march forward.
Even when the twins surrender to the gender roles expected of them in a time of war, they still have a deep connection. They know each other’s pain, and they know if the other lives. In a world of uncertainty, this becomes their only hope, the thing that gets them through. Even during the darkest moments of the story, the hope is always there. Although hope is constant, this story is no fairy tale; no white knights, and no good natured nymphs save these people from the history we all know. That is the novel’s power.
When Germany finally lowers its crushing boot on the island, Kalli is the victim of a demented general’s god complex. As she struggles to come to grips with the world she knew slipping away, a young German soldier finds her irresistible. Even though everything in their situation dictates that a love story can’t be, they still manage to form a type of love. A love built on surviving. Make no mistake, this is a love story, but it is a story of what a person is capable of with love – not hearts and flowers.
Ms. Panayotopulos transports her reader back to the carefree lifestyle of island life. Her images are beautiful and soothing. The love of the culture overflows from every page. Not only does the story praise the allure of Greek culture, it borrows well-known themes from their mythology. The Odyssey has a heavy influence on this book. Literary geeks will enjoy these small nods to the classic myth.
Kalli and Gabe are easy-to-love characters. Kalli is strong-willed and good natured. It is these qualities that make her the object of affection for her male counterparts. Gabe is the kind of man every woman wants. His ability to steal hearts makes the reader cheer for him even more. Ms. Panayotopulos characters are worth the investment.
Why this post, right now:
I’ve had a rough holiday season. I’m not going into the details because you guys don’t need or want to hear my moaning and wailing. Besides, there is always somebody out there who can trump your “worst day.” So I’m not going to play that game.
My point is though, one of my favorite things to write on Helium.com was book reviews. I looked forward to an interesting book review topic. The Art of War: A Novel was a book I found and posted the topic myself. The writer is a self-publisher and if you are curious about her and her book this is her website http://www.art-of-war-novel.com/. It is also available on Amazon.
So, yeah I think I wanted to remind myself of what I enjoy about this writing thing. This kind of work is really energizing to me.
Happy 2017 everyone! Hopefully, we’ll all be in a new positive state of mind by the end of this year.