This is a book that will haunt your waking thoughts and night-time dreams while you're reading it, and stay with you long after you've finished the final page. The true-life tragic and heart-breaking story of a mother's desperate struggle to save her children in the midst of a brutal civil war, sacrificing her own life in the process. Nicholas Gage has written the ultimate testimonial to a mother's love... ensuring that Eleni will live forever in the memories of his readers.
This book is great - but has some real lessons to take to heart, such as:
1. Once you're married, don't allow family to guilt you in to staying with them, rather than your husband.
2. Don't make life altering decisions based on whether or not you think the town will gossip about you.
3. When you have the money and you're in a dangerous situation, prioritize. Safety first!
4. Material goods will never be worth more than your safety or freedom.
Not to give the book away, but it was extremely frustrating to see how many windows of opportunity Eleni had to prevent what happened to her, yet she chose the wrong choice every time. Aghhhh!
Concretely, it is about how Communist guerrillas in Epirus took over the village of Lia, reduced the once sturdy villagers to treacherous, starving, vermin-infested semi-savages, used them for slave labor, and finally murdered many of them. The story centers on Eleni Gatzoyiannis, who attempts to escape with her children, more for their sakes than her own. The Communists manage to get other villagers to snitch on her and they end up torturing and murdering her in a ravine along with a few other villagers. Nicholas Gage reports here on what he found out about exactly what happened in that doomed village and what happened to Eleni. Gage is, in fact, Eleni's only son and he managed to escape to America just before the Greek national armies managed to rid the northern mountains of the Communists. A successful journalist in the US, he has written a marvelous account of some unsettling and depressing events. Toward the end of the book he has the chance to take revenge on the person most responsible for his mother's fate, but decides it would be a more fitting tribute to her if he did without his revenge. Some parts of the narrative are (necessarily) reconstructed, but in general the work is faithful to the facts of history. Extremely powerful, it will stay with the reader long after the reading is finished.