Three Summers is the most famous novel by Greek author Margarita Liberaki. Since I miss the summer months, I wanted to read a story that would make me feel the summer mood, and I chose this book carefully and did well. This very charming novel, set in the Athenian countryside, carried me the scent of flowers and reminded me of all the splendour of the countryside. Three Summers, one of the contemporary Greek classics and first published in 1946, tells the story of three sisters over three consecutive summers.
Although Three Summers did not interest me much in terms of its story, it was a book that I read with pleasure, as it describes the summer months, the unparalleled complacency that summer brings, as well as the vitality, the change of nature, flowers, trees and summer loves.
In the book, we read about the experiences and changes of the headstrong Maria, who quickly figure out what she wants from life, beautiful yet distant Infanta, and Katerina, who is a bit rebellious and has her head in the clouds, throughout three summers. We hear the story from Katerina, the most festive of these three sisters.
These three different sisters live with their mother, aunt and grandfather in a small town in the countryside of Athens, not far from the sea. The place where they live is a charming place, full of animals, trees and flowers, where they can observe each of the seasons to the fullest. The author also occasionally uses these elements of nature to describe the sexual awakenings of the three sisters. Everyone, the whole world, wakes up in the summer months.
The book explores the sexual awakenings of these three sisters, aged between 16 and 20, as well as their perspectives on love, marriage and life in general. As they are pretty different from each other as characters, as you can guess, everything from their love to their understanding of life changes. One understands all of them individually and gives each one their right. Of course, besides these themes, the author examines Greece just before the war, the place of women in society, and the balance between passion and logic.
If you want to read a growing-up story set in the Athenian countryside that will make you feel summer, I can recommend Three Summers. In my opinion, it was not a must-have book, but I enjoyed reading it as it describes the summers spent in the countryside precisely as I wanted. Enjoy!
Three Summers: With a new introduction by Polly Samson, Sunday Times bestselling author of A THEATRE FOR DREAMERS
‘Gorgeous… the written equivalent of lying in the sun eating figs’ India Knight, Sunday Times
‘That summer we bought big straw hats. Maria’s had cherries around the rim, Infanta’s had forget-me-nots, and mine had poppies as red as fire. . .’
Three Summers is a warm and tender tale of three sisters growing up in the countryside near Athens before the Second World War. Living in a ramshackle old house with their divorced mother are flirtatious, hot-headed Maria, beautiful but distant Infanta, and dreamy and rebellious Katerina, through whose eyes the story is mostly observed.
Over three summers, the girls share and keep secrets, fall in and out of love, try to understand the strange ways of adults and decide what kind of adults they hope to become.
‘The sun has disappeared from books these days… You are one of those who pass it on’ Albert Camus to Margarita Liberaki
‘The literary equivalent of a sun-soaked holiday in Greece‘ Culture Whisper
‘A leisurely, large-hearted coming-of-age novel, earthy and innocent, nostalgic and beautifully rendered’ Kirkus
‘A dreamy, cinematic tapestry of Greek village life’ NPR
Margarita Liberaki (Greek: Μαργαρίτα Λυμπεράκη, romanized: Margarita Lymberaki; 22 April 1919 – 24 May 2001) was a Greek writer and dramatist.
Liberaki was born in Athens, Greece, the daughter of Sappho (née Fexi), a writer, and Themistoklis Lymberakis. Her sister was the sculptor Aglae Liberaki (1923–85). Her parents divorced when she was a child and she was raised by her maternal grandparents. Her grandfather was the important publisher and bookstore owner Georgios D. Fexis [el].
She studied law at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. In 1941, she married the lawyer and poet Giorgos Karapanos. After completing her degree in 1943, she wrote and published her first novel The Trees (1945) under her married name. The couple had one daughter, novelist Margarita Karapanou. After their daughter’s birth in 1946, they divorced and Liberaki moved to Paris, where she began to write for the theater in French and Greek.
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