Many Greeks of the Diaspora have visited Greek islands over the summer to spend their holidays back in their homeland, the nostalgia tugging at them, drawn irresistibly to a place they can only visit now that they’ve made their lives elsewhere.
That’s how the award-winning Greek-British author Anne Zouroudi said she feels. She has first-hand experience of living in a small island community, where the culture inspired her to write a series of six novels about a Greek detective. Her life-changing experience came as a British tourist making a temporary escape from a stressful job.
“My sister and I wanted to go somewhere where the slow pace of life would be an antidote to the madness of the corporate world,” said Zouroudi. “We picked a tiny Greek island from a brochure.That choice turned out to be one of the most important I ever made.”
While on holiday in our country, she was swept off her feet by a Greek fisherman, they married and had a son, Will, who is now 19. But their marriage hit the rocks. “We were together for a number of years, both trying to make the relationship work, but in the end, I felt too constrained in that tiny community. As our son grew older, I had concerns as to whether he might be missing out in terms of education and opportunities – at that time, there wasn’t even a football team he could join. Rightly or wrongly, I thought he should have a broader view of the world.
She made a difficult choice. “I came back to the UK with my son in the mid-90’s and I struggled to settle back here. I still do,” said Zouroudi, who lives in Stanton. “Whilst I love the Peak District, with its moors, market towns and the views of hills which go on for ever, I thrive in heat and under blue skies. I cope by spending time in Greece as often as I can afford. “I would love to live back in Greece, but only for half the year, from May to October. Winters there are grim!” she added.
But she feels compelled to come back too. “I miss the attitude about life. The people work hard, but they make time for family and relaxation, which means the quality of life is so much better. A table at a waterside taverna, a glass of cold wine and a plate of olives – life doesn’t get any better. As a writer, I find everything about Greece inspiring – the sea, the landscape, the people, the myths. My books are to some degree travelogues and hymns to Greece’s undeniable beauty. “But I write what I see, so I include the not-so-good too – the stifling moral codes of small island societies, for example.”