Set on the Greek island of Crete, The Shape of Crete is a thrilling drama and passionate love story between a Bulgarian artist, Steffi, and James, an American historian. Rekindling their romance after a separation, Crete’s history of ancient myths and Nazi occupation entwines them in surprise and danger. They meet an Englishman searching for traces of his brother missing since 1943, and a local woman whose father was a partisan war leader; and then, shards of information reveal Steffi’s grandfather fought with the Nazis. Danger lurks when a local thug decides Steffi and Jim’s relationships with the others concerns gold lost in the war. The final tension-driven scenes unfold in a labyrinth-like cave in the spirit of the mythical battle between Theseus and the Minotaur. The unexpected conclusion questions whether love’s best outcome is enlightenment or physical survival.
My thoughts: this was a sad but rather lovely book, the romance between Steffi and Jim was heartwarming and touching, at last they had found the person they were searching for after both being in troubled marriages. There are bumps along the road to happiness, but once settled in a cottage on Crete, where Jim is writing and Steffi paints, they are happy.
Their friendships with Harold Robinson and their landlady, Maria Phindrikalis, are warm and offer rewards of their own. Steffi’s paintings sell in a local gallery and Harold finds a historical link between Steffi’s grandfather, his brother Jim and Maria’s father – a hero of the occupation. This investigation into the past puts the couple and Harold at risk, but was it worth it to learn the truth?
The ending was very sad and it has lingered with me, I so hoped for a better one, where they got the happiness and future they deserved but history has a habit of repeating itself and perhaps Steffi and Harold’s lost relatives were waiting for them in the labyrinth.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.