Thursday, 5 April 2012
‘I wondered how I could get close to the truth, but I also feared knowing.’ The dilemma facing Maud after her husband Nikitas, an historian, dies in a car accident outside Athens underpins Sofka Zinovieff’s thought-provoking, moving novel.
Natural curiosity about why her husband had driven out to the coast on the night he died leads the culturally isolated English widow to question everything about him: what motivated his contempt for the British and their role in Greek’s self-determination, why his mother, Antigone, abandoned him as an infant, and even her fiery husband’s fidelity.
Set in contemporary Athens, her riveting quest uncovers family feuds that have kept Nikitas’s mother and sister apart since the Nazi occupation and the Greek Civil War tested their loyalties over 50 years ago. Like Sophocles’ tragic heroine, we see that Antigone was driven not by selfishness but by heart-wrenching self-sacrifice. Then, as now, idealism, as Nikitas and his politically-active son discover, exacts a high price. The truth is an even greater burden.