POLK, HARPER AND WHO by Panayotis Cacoyannis

polk-harper-and-whoAnother home run from the versatile pen of the author whose name I cannot pronounce, but do remember.   You know how it is with Americans.  We are always so superior about things foreign, and take pride in not being able to speak other languages or pronounce foreign words.   Well, Since Mr. Cacoyannis was born in Cyprus, even though now he is a Brit, having passed the bar to practice law and lives in London, maybe he counts on my Read Foreign Authors Challenge. He definitely holds a secure place on my Top Ten Authors list.

This is another quirky story, although not nearly so quirky as The Dead of August,  of Bowl of Fruit (1907), a much more straight forward tale.  Although said to be a love story, I found it to be more about the wife, who had a strange childhood.  Her mother died of cancer when she was a child, and her father soon after married the grasping ‘housekeeper’,  with whom he had been having an affair before his wife’s death, you know, as one does,  but the strange part was the stepmother insisted that the child call her ‘mummy’  or whatever and never refer to her dead mother, so that this woman could pretend the child was really hers.  The stepmother was truly wicked to the father, but always sweet, loving and giving to the child, who cordially hated the woman.

Well, dad died a lingering death when our girl was 15, but strangely enough, she went on calling her stepmother ‘mother’ even when she no longer had to in order to appease her father, and even though she still went on hating the woman, perhaps now not so cordially.  And she never told her husband of ten years that the woman was not her ‘real’ mother but her stepmother.  Oh well, we all have secrets.

The husband absolutely adored his wife, and this is what I absolutely adore about this male author — that he writes so tenderly about a guy’s feelings, and makes the guy still love the wife long after I would have taken her by the shoulders and shaken her until her eyeballs rattled and yelled into her face “GET A F**KING GRIP!”   Yeah.  but that’s me,  My Way or the Highway Marti.

It is a story not only about love, but about friendship, and tolerance and understanding.  A lot more understanding than I personally understand.

Although the blurb talks about a bit of black humor, I did not find any.  Maybe because I am not British.

What I was ho-hum about:  lots, and I mean lots, of talk about having sex.  Not descriptions of the act, but these people had a LOT of sex.  We are told this over and over.  Maybe it was to convey to us jaded and oh-so-blasé readers how much they still loved each other after all this time.  And the other thing:  yeah, I know it was part of the story, and my ho-humness has nothing to do with the writing or the story arc or anything but me, but there is this whole thing about how the wife was suddenly over the top anxious to have a baby, but she couldn’t because….   I am underwhelmed about people’s problems with having a baby.  We have too many people on the planet as it is, sorry about your biological issues, get a puppy, get over it, get on with your life.  My third ho-hommery was how everybody got so successful without having to really work at it.  The hubs takes up photography and is an immediate international success.  The wife receives a sizeable inheritance, and so buys herself a nifty two-story apartment … in London…. in a decent neighborhood. Then she enlists two other best friends and they start an advertising agency and guess what?  Yeah, they are wildly successful.  The wife sets up her other best friend in a boutique, and it immediately prospers.   Oh well.  I am just jealous, because I am Wednesday’s Child, had to work hard for a living.  Life isn’t fair.  Who said life was fair?  Wait.  What am I jealous of… this is F.I.C.T.I.O.N.  Oh, yeah.  I forgot.  Never mind.

Good book.  I am having trouble expressing why I liked it so much, but I really did.


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