Dandelions for Dinner is an entertaining read that describes the story a Greek family living through the horrors of World War II. Told through the eyes of a child, this father and son duo do a good job placing readers into the hardships of famine, foreign occupation, and utter desperation experienced by many Greeks during this period. The writing skillfully blends the experiences of a child growing up during this period with the reflections of an adult looking back some sixty plus years. The story holds special meaning given today’s crisis in Greece, and it contains just enough humor to get you through the more difficult scenes. This title was selected from Book Club Reading List.
A Family Affair
The book serves two purposes – a) to memorialize this period, and b) to provide a detailed account of the authors’ lineage. Early on, some sections appear to be a bit self-aggrandizing, embellishing one or two relatives’ stature in the community. However, given that several of the sections to follow air aspects of the family’s dirty laundry in public, I suspect these early sections were written tongue-in-cheek. Nonetheless, if you find this part a turnoff, I recommend persevering through it. The story will get much better.
Life in Gargaliani
Shortly after covering the family’s lineage, we are introduced to Sarantis, the main character. He is a likable child with an easy-going temperament. From his balcony, we learn about the cast of characters passing below that make up Gargaliani, a small town located in southern Greece. As Sarantis grows up, his world expands to the plateia and beyond, taking us with him to learn about life among the adults. Life may be slow in Gargaliani, but the drama is persistent. Whether it’s spats with relatives, invading forces from Italy (who eventually eat the boy’s pet), the battle between Greek Communists and Royalists, or the constant struggle to survive, there is constant tension that will keep you entertained.
While the book has not been written as a travel novel, you would be served well to pack it for a trip to Greece. It’s clear that the authors spent a fair amount of time researching the history of Greece, providing valuable cultural insights that have been shaped by the country’s evolution. In addition, they embedded a number of Greek words into the story and included a glossary at the end that you’ll find helpful during your travels. The result is an informative, entertaining, and well-written story. If you pack this book, you could very well find yourself inspired to hop off the beaten path and explore a small town in southern Greece called Gargaliani!
Five Stars: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★