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A Crowded Heart: A Novel

1 rating: 1.0
A book by Nicholas Papandreou

Composed of a series of childhood recollections, fictional only in the change of names, this first novel by the California-born son of former Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou tells the story of a young man from California whose family returns … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Nicholas Papandreou
Publisher: Picador
1 review about A Crowded Heart: A Novel

Good writing ... but failed to hold my interest!

  • Apr 24, 2008
"The style of this enchanting novel is both sensuous and sharp. ... Tom Sawyer goes to Thasos." - Gore Vidal

I have always admired author and playwright Gore Vidal's body of works. His quote caught my attention, so I looked forward to reading this book, written by Nicholas Papandreou, son of former Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. I agree with Vidal that this author has a sharp style and the opening descriptions of his childhood memories of Greece and its people were well-written and enchanting (in parts), but I didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as I expected to.

A Crowded Heart: A Novel is, basically, a series of anecdotal memories of Nicholas Papandreou's childhood, growing up in the shadow of his "political animal" father and a grandfather who was revered by the entire Greek population. It's a thinly disguised autobiography, telling the story of a boy from California whose family returns to Greece where his father pursues a career in politics. Transplanted to a culture he doesn't know and can't accept, he has a love-hate relationship with his father and learns that Greeks can be primitive and cruel.

I enjoyed reading about the quaint superstitions of the villagers and the anecdotes of the family background were interesting, but the book dragged in too many places to hold my interest.

The fault is not in Papandreou's writing--indeed he's quite poetic at times--it's just that the stories didn't cohere into a solid "whole" for me and I could not get interested in his life. Perhaps it was the slow pacing of the stories or that I'm used to reading authors who present their material more dramatically. Or perhaps the fault is mine; perhaps I should not have read this book, having little interest in Greek politics. Who knows why a certain book appeals to one person and not to another?

I wish I could give this book five-stars or even four-, but it didn't hold my interest ... even though Papandreou has an abundance of talent and is excellent at description.

I can only recommend A Crowded Heart: A Novel to readers who wish to know more of the background of former Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou ... or to see this dynamic man through the eyes of his son.

Reviewed by: Betty Dravis, 2008
author of: 1106 Grand Boulevard

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