In The Clover House, author Henriette Lazaridis Power tells the story of Green American Calliope (Callie) Brown and her strained relationship with her very Greek mother, Clio. After Callie’s uncle passes away, she travels to Greece to attend to his estate. Here, Callie seeks the truth about her mother’s past as she attempts to resolve her own future. Power’s literary fiction touches on family saga.
The structure of Power’s novel is interesting. While the majority of the chapters are told in the first person, present tense from Callie’s point of view, some (maybe 1/3) of the sections are told in third-person, past tense from the point of view of Clio, Callie’s mother. This structure–shifting between Callie’s present and Clio’s past–is interesting and invites us to consider the relationship between past and present. I have to say, however, that I found the present tense writing to be a bit tedious. I understand this choice and can see that it serves a purpose, but in general I find present-tense narration to be a bit distracting.
In spite of that criticism, I do find Power to be a really good writer. This is not merely escapist fiction about mother-daughter conflict of the sort that could be adapted as a Lifetime movie. On the contrary, there’s something literary and even poetic about the way that Power strings words together. Her descriptions of the Greek landscape are particularly engaging.
I feel as though I’ve recently read far too many novels that hinge on the consequences of difficult mother-daughter relationships. The theme, although certainly relevant to many lives, has started to feel a bit tedious. There is, however, nothing tedious about Power’s novel. Power provides a fresh, interesting take on this all-too-common theme. By placing the root of the mother-daughter conflict within the historical context of World War II and the Greek Civil War, Power gives a concrete background to the tension between Callie and her mother. This also pushes the novel towards historical fiction in ways that are interesting and compelling.
Power’s novel is not a quick read. It’s rather like taking a meandering walk on a warm day. Power gives us a definite sense of place, one that makes me want to visit Greece.
NOTE: A review copy was provided by the publisher. No monetary or other form of compensation was received.
A special thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to host a stop along this tour. You can find a full tour schedule here.