Today’s guest blog article is was written by Peter Barber, author of the bestselling book, A Parthenon on Our Roof. This memoir won the Global Book Awards and has placed at the top of Amazon charts in several categories since its release. We are reading this memoir in our online book club, Travel Europe Through Books, in the month of February, while focusing on Greece!
Adventures of an Anglo Greek Marriage
by Peter Barber
‘Will there be plate smashing?’ I asked.
‘Doubtful,’ Alex replied. ‘We don’t do that in Greece.’
As a young child growing up in England, I was obsessed with the stories of ancient Greece. I would sit in the local cinema watching technicolour films of Hercules, Medusa turning men into stone, and my all-time favourite, Jason and the Argonauts. I would sit for hours and watch these films over and over, imagining being there next to the impossibly blue sea, and walking through ancient temples fighting with harpies and looking for Greek princesses who needed rescuing.
Then it happened. Alex arrived like a hurricane out of a cloudy sky, and with her, she brought sunshine. All my British upbringing and convention and everything I knew was blown into confusion.
I had married a Greek and my life changed. Gone was the grey sky of London. No more holidays on windy, cold beaches. I now lived in paradise. I had found my very own Greek princess, and it was not her that was rescued. It was me.
Alex set to introducing me to the real Greece and dismissed the stereotype image that had formed in my imagination. Yes, there are beautiful, warm beaches. Yes, there are lovely welcoming tavernas with octopus hanging on lines drying in the sun. But just below the surface is the genuine beauty of the wonderful ancient county.
Alexandra, a product of Greek Fire. Born into the cradle of civilization. Weaned on the teachings of ancient Greek philosophers, thrilled by the bravery of Spartans and thousands of years of cultural heritage. I, her future husband, a tea drinking, digestive dunking product of British society. Working to make a living, with no real ambitions or dreams. But then, I fell in love, and everything changed.
The book details her quest to transform me from a typical stiff upper lipped Brit into something resembling an Achilles type character with sharpened sword and wits to match. My transformation would sometimes be hilarious, always embarrassing, but would change my outlook on life and open my eyes to the world around me.
Being married to a Greek, I have adopted the best of her culture. I now think more deeply, and I experience, and show, emotions that I’d closed off for many years. If I’m happy, I say so; if I’m sad, I express that too. I feel more complete than ever before. Alex, meanwhile, has realised that we Brits are not a cold race. She has seen the genuine goodness in people she previously considered to be stiff and unfeeling. She’s learned that when our protective shell is stripped away, we are just like her: loving, kind, and caring. As a couple relishing the multiple pleasures of discovery in our cross-cultural marriage, we’re representatives of the wider world.
Greece has a proud literary history. The writings of Homer have enchanted countless generations over thousands of years. More recently, other classical works have emerged to thrill us. Gerald Durrell, Louis de Bernières and many others found Greece to be the perfect location. It’s a writer’s dream.
I hope you enjoy my book. It’s a romance, a comedy, an insight into Greece viewed from within a real Greek family and most of all, I hope it will make you want to visit Greece.
About the Author:
My name is Peter Barber. I am 65 years old with a passion for Greek life. I also write books about Greece. When I first arrived in this beautiful country, my fiery Greek wife made it a mission to convert me from a strait-laced Englishman into something resembling an Achilles type character with sharpened sword and wits to match. My transformation would sometimes be hilarious, always embarrassing, but would change my outlook on life and open my eyes to the world around me.
My next book is almost ready for editing. It’s a sequel to A Parthenon on our Roof, but rather than being set in an upmarket Athenian suburb, but this time its humorous book set in a small Greek fishing village where we chose to build a new home. We should publish later this year.
More Light-Hearted Adventures
If you enjoy reading cultural stories, romance, and light-hearted adventures in sunny European lands, you’ll probably really like Fate & Longing in Lisbon by V M Karren.
A novella with a lot of heart, it chronicles the quirky attempts of one Portuguese mailman to save his job while chasing the woman he loves. First book in the Armchair Travel series.
“Having my annual flight to Portugal cancelled by COVID-19, I was sitting in my garden and looked for something to connect me with my beloved Portugal. I found this short story, which I read by a bottle of Douro Wine in one afternoon, until it turned dark. I recognized so many of the things that I love about Portugal. A very nicely written story, showing how a mailman finds a way to delay his dismissal… the wits of the traditional Portugal against the commercialism of the internet age… Yes, the story is borderline ‘cheesy’ – but it was exactly what I needed to deal with my ‘saudade’ – thank you!” –Amazon reader