MY LAST LAMENT is definitely for fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, and is a wonderfully rich novel set in a largely untold arena of World War II history: Greece.
As an old woman and the last of the village lamenters—women who compose lament-poems for grieving families—Aliki agrees to talk to an American ethnographer about her fading art. In the process, Aliki begins to sing her own story: before she was one of the last of her kind, Aliki was a fourteen-year-old girl whose isolated village was under Nazi control during World War II.
Stricken mute after the trauma of witnessing her father’s public execution, Aliki is taken in by a neighbor and her troubled son, Takis. The family is also harboring a Jewish refugee, Stelios, and his mother, who teach them the ancient art of shadow puppetry in which shadows on the screen tell the classic Greek fables.
As the war nears its end, the Nazis torch the village and massacre its people, but Aliki, Takis, and Stelios escape. Fleeing across the chaotic landscape of post-war Greece, the three become a makeshift family, traveling as a troupe of shadow puppeteers to earn a living. As they make their way through Greece, they are witnesses to a country being pulled apart by the departing Axis occupants and various nationalist rebels.
MY LAST LAMENT combines the larger-than-life themes of classical Greek literature—madness, grief, political intrigue—with an intimate tale of friendship and loved forged in the crucible of wartime. It is also a story that traces Greece’s ongoing economic and political turmoil to its post-war beginnings, shining a light on one of the lesser known legacies of World War II.
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Berkley (April 4, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399583408