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Songs of Blue and Gold

by Deborah Lawrenson

Winter in England is the perfect place and time to read SONGS OF BLUE AND GOLD. It is not by accident that billionaires buy houses and keep their yachts at Corfu in order to impress and entertain their, er, rich and powerful friends. The climate and scenery are superb. But the island's special charm lies in its unspoiled corners and with the Greek people and its fishing villages. SONGS OF BLUE AND GOLD is set in the horseshoe bay of Kalami, with its dark blue sea dotted with small sails, its vine-canopied taverna, and its headland rich in olive and cypress trees. In this craggy northern part of the island the dusty little road corkscrews down the side of Mount Pantocrator, to where the sea deepens to azure and cobalt.

This novel is a half-truth. It is infused with the spirit of Lawrence Durrell, and many of the biographical details are his, but Deborah Lawrence's hero, Julian Adie, is a separate and fictional character.

The story begins in rose brick and weather-boarded Bell Cottage, near Tunbridge Wells, where Elizabeth Norden is being cared for by her daughter Melissa. Elizabeth is losing her memory, but she surprises Melissa with the gift of a book of poems by Julian Adie. Inscribed on the title page in longhand is: 'To Elizabeth, always remembering Corfu, what could have been and what we must both forget'. It is signed 'Julian Adie'. When asked, Elizabeth smiles vaguely, but, like so much else, it has slipped away and she cannot remember anything about it. But Melissa is intrigued, and after her mother dies, and partly to escape a failing marriage, she decides to explore the connection between her mother and this much married poet, novelist and hedonist, Julian Adie. The search takes her to Corfu, and there, with the help of Alexandros, her English speaking herbalist and historian Greek friend, she begins to piece together the clues to a part of her mother's life of which she knew nothing, and of which she would never have dreamed. And in the sun-drenched October days of Corfu, Melissa is led at last to a dramatic re-evaluation of her own life.

SONGS OF BLUE AND GOLD is an intelligent and perceptive study of the unreliability of biography as well as a moving story about love and loss. Forget about grey skies, wet feet and itchy scarves and take yourself off to Corfu for a bit of gorgeous, but thoughtful, escapism.


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