Storace, Patricia. Dinner with Persephone. Pantheon Books, 1996.
Reason read: January 6th is the Fest of Theofania celebrating the baptism of Christ and a celebration of a return to light.
I have always wanted to visit Greece. The landscapes, the weather, the food. Sigh. All of it has me spellbound. But. But! But, the more I read of Storace’s Dinner with Persephone, I am not sure about the culture. I definitely do not agree with some of the attitudes towards women and marriage. Women are inferior to men. Sexual condescension is a thing. The accepted violence of smacking a wife or daughter around and how it is glamorized in television and movies is concerning. There is an ambivalence towards arson, too which I found odd.
Beyond the confusing side of Greek culture, I enjoyed learning about the icons of the region: a blue eye talisman hanging from an old woman’s neck, the juicy red jewels of pomegranates, the fable of Dionysus and the plant. To be sure, there is a lot of religious talk in Dinner with Persephone. The people Storace talk with mention the Virgin Mary as if she is a next-door neighbor they bumped into while going for coffee. Children bring up events dating back to the Ottoman Empire as if it were yesterday. It is only a perception but it seems religion is worked into nearly every conversation.
There is a subtle, almost secretive sultriness to Storace’s writing. I can’t put my finger on why I think that. The language is tedious at times, but more often sensuous.
P.S. I have not given up on the food of Greece. There is this one dish I am dying to try: zucchini blossoms filled with feta cheese, egg, and fresh mint. Yum.
Quotes I liked, “As I travel here, I am losing the illusion that I know where I am” (p 156),
Author fact: Storace has published a book of poetry and has received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award for her work.
Book trivia: This would have been a fantastic book to include photographs. Sorry to say that there are none.
Playlist: “Kyrie Eleison”, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, “Let’s Take a Walk on the Moon”, “Denial”, Mozart, Bach, Hayden, Beethoven, Chopin, Mendelssohn’s “Wedding Recessional”, Elton John, “This Land is Your Land”, “The Dream After the Dance”, “Roll Out the Barrel”, “Greece Will Never Die”, Katie Grey, Patsy Cline, and “Carmen Sylvia Waltz”.
Nancy said: Pearl called Dinner with Persephone an excellent choice.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Just So Much Greek To Me” (p 120).