When The Cypress Whispers-Yvette Manessis Corporon

When The Cypress Whispers
Yvette Manessis Corporon
Harper, Apr 1 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062267580

Now thirty-five years old, Daphne finds her once strong belief in the American dream shaken with the murders of her Greek immigrant parents in their Yonkers diner and the vehicular death of her husband by a drunk driver. Fleeing Westchester with her baby Evie, Daphne opens up a successful classy restaurant in Manhattan and recently became engaged to affluent Stephen the banker who approved her initial loan.

They agree to marry on the Greek island of Erikousa; where Daphne’s Yia-yia resides. The widow and her five year old daughter arrive on Erikousa early so that she can plan and arrange her marriage ceremony. However, as memories of loving her time on the island surface, Yia-yia tells her granddaughter and great-grand daughter classic myths in which Daphne feels an affinity to the beleaguered heroines. The only downers in Daphne idyllic return to Greece are her knowing her deceased loved ones would cherish being here; her discomfort with Yianni a Jewish friend of Yia-yia, whose family her grandma and other islanders saved from the Nazis; and fish out of water grumbling Stephen.

This is an entertaining though straight forward drama that looks at whether a second generation assimilated American can find her lost Grecian roots on a warm Greek island or is fated to an unhappy second marriage on a cold New York island . The fully developed single mom and her delightful grandma (mindful of a gender changing Zorba the Greek circa a century later) hold the storyline together. The key islanders are fascinating characters; while Evie behaves too perfect especially in spite of all the emotional tsuris in her young life and Stephen is stereotyped as a cold Manhattan suit.

Harriet Klausner

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