My Big Fat Greek Wedding is one of my favorite classic films. I love the story that is woven in the movie, and I think the family saga is really fascinating. It’s a peek inside Greek-American culture, and it’s a tale that weaves together the tension between tradition and modernity. In light of this, when I had the opportunity to review Effie Kammenou’s first two books in The Gift Saga, I was happy to do so. Both books deal with that same Greek-American look at life, and the interplay of family members.
Unlike My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Evanthia’s Gift & Waiting for Aegina are family sagas that take place over the course of several decades. Whereas we get a piece of Toula Portokalos’s life in the film, we get to know the Fotopolous family in-depth. This epic look at the lives of these people is riveting. In the vein of Barbara Taylor Bradford, Kammenou weaves together the stories of family in a way where it’s hard to stop reading. Kammenou grabs you from page on, where she begins the story in the middle – and at the beginning of all stories – with an unplanned pregnancy.
While many stories lose their luster and movement come a sequel, Waiting for Aegina avoids this problem. The power of friendship and the depth of love that true friends offer is a highlight of this novel. Both of these novels will stick with you long after reading them – they deal with the deep stuff – teen pregnancies, suicide, alcoholism, and more Kammenou doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff.
Date Published: August 7, 2015
In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets – ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.
The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.
EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.
Waiting for Aegina
Date Published – January 7, 2016
Book Two in The Gift Saga: The continuation of Evanthia’s Gift…
In 1961, five little girls moved into a suburban neighborhood and became inseparable, lifelong friends. They called themselves the ‘Honey Hill Girls,’ named after the street on which they lived. As teenagers they shared one another’s ambitions and dreams, secrets and heartaches. Now, more than thirty years later, they remain devoted and loyal, supporting each other through triumphs and sorrows.
Evanthia’s Gift follows the life of Sophia Giannakos. In Waiting for Aegina the saga continues from the perspectives of Sophia and her friends as the story drifts back and forth in time, filling in the gaps as the women grow to adulthood.
Naive teenage ideals are later challenged by harsh realities, as each of their lives takes unexpected turns. Now nearing their fiftieth year, Sophia, Demi, Amy, Mindy and Donna stand together through life-altering obstacles while they try to regain the lighthearted optimism of their youth.
About the Author, Effie Kammenou
Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.
Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga is Kammenou’s latest release.
Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.
As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.
Author Contact Information
Landing page for both books –
Be sure to check these books out! If you have read them, please post your thoughts in the comments section.
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