Welcome to my blog. I am not a very regular blogger, but I try to keep this site updated with news and information. If there's none of the above I may just share my random ruminations.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Blissfully Romantic Location.

We have just come home from two weeks in Greece.  The unarguable beauty; the warmth; the scents of pine resin, thyme and sage; the continuous swooshing of the sea and the clanking of goats’ bells - and from our vantage point high above it, we even saw a huge turtle swimming up the bay - all combine in a seductive sense memory that I've filed away to be revisited whenever I need a boost.

Our villa is terracotta, halfway up the slope

Add caption

By the time it came to leave it was a wrench, not just because we had enjoyed a lovely holiday,  but because we felt we were leaving friends.  Betty and Venettia, the caretakers of our villa, took us on a trip - it was at their own instigation. We prefer not to have a hire car and they were concerned we were missing out. They refused any contribution towards petrol, and collected us and drove us home, despite our insistence that we would get a taxi.


Members of the older generation of the family
The brothers

Dimitris and Christophoros, seemed bafflingly interchangeable, popping up to 'wait' at one or another bar or taverna. We then discovered that many of the eateries are a family concern, and that they are only two of the four brothers and three sisters of the family.

Andreas and Anait run the delightful and invariably excellent Nefeli taverna, with the help of Aleko (or Oleg) at front of house, and many others - including Anait's mum - in the background.

Anait with her fiancé and business partner, Andreas

The Nefeli

I have to mention Katerina and her daughter, Maria, who run the Minimarket, and their cat Nausicca. (Poor Nausicca was pregnant when we first met her, but by the end of our holiday she had given birth and then lost her first litter of kittens. It is thought they were predated.)
When I went to buy some olive oil made from the olives grown on their own farm, they insisted on giving it to me.

Last but not least, marathon man, Christos. He is the owner of the villa we stayed in and could not have been more charming, enthusiastic, helpful and eager to chat to us - despite his pidgin English, and our, even more pidgin, Greek. Amazingly fit, he had retired as a colonel only four years previously, from a 36 year career in the Greek army, in the paratroop regiment.

Christos and me - enjoying his famous frappé
I can understand why Romance writers choose places like the Greek islands to set their stories.  The location is idyllic, lending itself to languorous glances across a candle-lit dinner table; the balmy evening breeze and the lulling sound of the sea; fragrant evening strolls among the Oleander trees and the Gardenias, but.....

When I am asked if I am a romance writer, I usually disclaim the description, or at least attempt to qualify my kind of fiction. I am not a snob about it - I'm a member of the Romantic Novelists Association after all - but I need to manage the expectations of my potential readers. If someone picks up one of my books wanting to immerse themselves in an escapist world of hearts and flowers, yachts and fast cars, glamorous locations, then they will feel very let down. But, if the reader wants a more down-to-earth story about real people, in real-life situations, then my books might be just what they’re looking for. 

Life is not a fairy tale - most of us, at some time, have to deal with bereavement, marriage, childbirth, infidelity, separation, illness and ... love, in its many facets.  There is the love of parents for children, and vice versa.  There is the love between brothers and sisters. There is love between friends.  Even the love in a relationship, is not always - or only - romantic.  It grows, changes, deepens and sometimes, sadly, fades.  I see love as a part of life, probably THE most important part, but still only a section woven into the plait that makes up our lives. 

So, of course, I write about love, but I don’t just write about its heady and breathless joys. I write about love where it’s gone wrong or dies. I write about the bad consequences of love and sex, as well as its rewards. And I don't deny that locations such as the one I've just left, are very very romantic. I just don't write that kind of book. 


Elizabeth Bailey said...

What a gorgeous place, Gilli! And an excellent description of what your books are about. I think the original meaning of romantic has become changed over the years. A romance was once a tale of adventure, and the "romance" rather indicated its improbability. We'd probably say fantasy if that term hadn't been hi-jacked as well!

What a fabulous family over there in Greece! Such a joy to be welcomed with that kind of warmth. Must have made a huge difference to your holiday.

Gilli Allan said...

Thank you, Liz.

Of course, you're absolutely right about 'romance' and, even given it's metamorphosis over the years, my use of it here is a little narrow. I know a lot of category romances these days are not just Cinderella tales about Latin billionaires and a jet set life-style.

But it was such a lovely holiday we have already booked to go there again next year. OH has just come into the study, while I am typing this, to tell me. Woohoo! gx

Elizabeth Bailey said...

How exciting! That says a great deal...

Unknown said...

Hello Gilli,

I am looking to stay at Assos View Villas however I have not been able to book due to the nature of how they (manager/owner) takes payment. I contacted them directly and within 30 mins I received a pleasant email from Christos. He sent me a link to where I could book. I was directed to ownersdirect.co.uk where I would get in contact with the manager Bob. After talking to Bob it was made clear that payment would be via bank transfer, no exceptions. When I asked what financial protection I received a reply stating that he ''had no idea about protection'' which obviously isn't very encouraging.

My main question is how did you book? The apartments are incredibly beautiful and definitely the best I have seen available in Assos but I am hesitant at handing over money for something that I have no guarantee for.

Reading your article only makes me want to stay there more, but like most people I need to make sure I am financially protected before booking.

Kind Regards