Author Topic: The Facade Lady of Corfu  (Read 840 times)

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Offline Dasia

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The Facade Lady of Corfu
« on: January 17, 2013, 11:18:39 PM »
The unusual title caught my eye recently while searching another title in modern fiction set in Greece  ::) The author is Spyros Plaskovitis, translator Amy Mims.

Found a review on Amazon--I don't know how to make those links with "googl" in them, but anyone can find it on Amazon I'm sure. The plot looks intriguing ("A plan is afoot on the island to sell two islets just off Corfu to rich Saudi Arabian investors, for the benefit of certain "well-connected" Greeks...") but the review is only middling.

Has anyone read this book? Just wondering if it's worth pursuing, as it's hard to find and expensive.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 06:15:17 AM by Dasia »
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Offline Bob

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Re: The Facade Lady of Corfu
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2013, 08:57:58 AM »
For those that are interested, the link to this book is

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Offline Viviene

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Re: The Facade Lady of Corfu
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2013, 09:27:23 AM »
Funny I just found this book this morning and was just about to post it on here when I saw your input Dasia and Bob.  :) :)


As Greece in 2011 sits on the edge of bankruptcy and we have come to appreciate that the nation has been run for decades as a kleptocracy, a state in which corruption and nepotism are endemic from the highest levels of society and politics downwards, "The Façade Lady of Corfu" by Spyros Plaskovitis offers genuine insights into what has been going on. In kleptocratic Greece members of the ruling class and governmental officers and ministers take advantage of the absence of transparency to extend their personal wealth and political power. However, "The Façade Lady of Corfu" was written in 1995 and, although, no doubt, it was a daring novel to present to the Greek public at that time, today, in view of Greece's catastrophic current financial situation, it appears rather tame in its attempt to expose the clandestine workings of the upper levels of Greek society. Nevertheless, it does confront the matter, and I know of no other Greek novel translated into English which does so.

The plot is mainly located on the island of Corfu, although for a chapter or two it diverts to Brussels and Strasbourg, to seats of the European Parliament, of which Greece of course has been a member. A plan is afoot on the island to sell two islets just off Corfu to rich Saudi Arabian investors, for the benefit of certain "well-connected" Greeks. While part of the novel focuses upon the machinations of this sale, the greater part of the work actually revolves around the matters of integrity and identity, explored through the characters of Angelhina Dasiou and Dinos Hairetis. Dasiou, an ageing native of the island, has been so swept up in the surge to artificiality and glitz, so typical of Greek development and "modernisation" over the past three decades, that the manager of the hotel where she works has actually managed to have her undergo plastic surgery in order to project a better image to the hotel's clients. Hairetis, a little younger than Dasiou, left the island long ago and has been one of its representatives in Brussels. There he has enjoyed the high life and fallen in love with a simple but very beautiful night-club young female dancer, a "half caste" of African descent. When Hairetis returns to Corfu with his exotic plaything he is entrapped in the plans to sell off the two islands so that they may be developed into leisure resorts. While Hairetis's beautiful dancer dazzles all whom she meets on the island, Dasiou meets the ageing Anghelina, and then, for the rest of the story, the two come slowly to recognise each other's past and present.

So more than anything else Spyros Plaskovitis's novel is a love story balancing on the issues of integrity and identity. Along the way he exposes the corruption which is so much a part of business and development in Greece, particularly in the sphere of tourist developments and leisure resorts, the hideous concrete complexes that have sprung up at points along Greece's beautiful coasts. Plaskovitis himself served many years as a Greek MP and a Euro MP and so one can only assume it was his own integrity which urged him to expose the corruption by which much is accomplished in Greece. Thus, in his own context he has been brave. However, in Europe and the West, we are used to, and we expect, much more biting revelations and exposés. We also expect the evil-doers to suffer badly in the end. But while "The Façade Lady of Corfu" proves a little too tame for the Western palate, it still stands as an informative reflection upon aspects of Greek life.

Despite several dozen typos throughout the 1995 Kedros edition, Amy Mims's translation of "The Façade Lady of Corfu" is excellent. Mims gives as many "teeth", as much punch, as she can to what, I suspect, was probably a fairly restrained, though daring, original text. Unfortunately Plaskovitis's characters in this work are rather two-dimensional, or "flat", and one of the objectives of Mims's translation appears to have been to add as much three-dimensional colour as and where she could. Regardless, "The Façade Lady of Corfu" succeeds in its objective of setting out an example of how big business schemes in Greece, and elsewhere, are often "managed".
Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.


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