I am delighted to welcome author Kathryn Gauci to my blog today.
Kathryn Gauci was born in Leicestershire, England, and studied textile design at Loughborough College of Art and later at Kidderminster College of Art and Design where she specialised in carpet design and technology. After graduating, Kathryn spent a year in Vienna, Austria before moving to Greece where she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. There followed another brief period in New Zealand before eventually settling in Melbourne, Australia.
Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio in Melbourne for over fifteen years, work which she enjoyed tremendously as it allowed her the luxury of travelling worldwide, often taking her off the beaten track and exploring other cultures. The Embroiderer is her first novel; a culmination of those wonderful years of design and travel, and especially of those glorious years in her youth living and working in Greece – a place that she is proud to call her spiritual home.
Kathryn is here to tell us about a scene from The Embroiderer which is set against the mosques and minarets of Asia Minor and the ruins of ancient Athens. A gripping saga of love and loss, hope and despair, and of the extraordinary courage of women in the face of adversity.
My favourite scene in The Embroiderer and why.
A hard choice as The Embroiderer spans 150 years and I have several favourites, especially the prologue and Dimitra’s memoirs which throw light on the family’s early life.
The story is written in four parts and in the end I have chosen the last scene in Part II – a pivotal point in the book. The year is 1922 and the Greek troops have occupied the Smyrna region for three years. The main protagonist, Sophia Laskaris, has left Constantinople for her home town of Smyrna (modern day Izmir). For reasons I cannot divulge, her highly successful life as a couturier has come crashing down and she is forced to re-open her couture house, LA MAISON DU L’ORIENT, in the Rue Franque – Smyrna’s equivalent of Bond St or Fifth Avenue.
Unfortunately, not only for Sophia and her family, but for the entire population of Smyrna, they underestimated the strength and determination of Mustafa Kemal’s Nationalists. In late August 1922, the remnants of the Greek army return from Anatolia and evacuate back to Greece leaving in their wake, thousands of desperate Christian refugees who pour into the city.
During the first week of September, Kemal’s Nationalists enter the city determined to take their revenge on the Christian population. Despite calls for calm, atrocities start to take place immediately. When the Greek archbishop is reprimanded and then set upon by Turks who torture and kill him, many believe all is lost, yet others believe that because of the presence of foreign warships in the Bay of Smyrna, and the many foreign nationals living in Smyrna, the Allies will not stand by and see a massacre.
During the second week of September, a fire breaks out in the Armenian quarter of the city which was later proven to have been deliberately lit by the Turks. The fire takes hold and the wind changes direction. The fire, now burning out of control, spreads towards the harbour where there are thousands of helpless refugees. All those hiding in hospitals, schools and churches are either burnt alive or forced out into the arms of the Turks who slaughter them.
Most of the remaining westerners are evacuated leaving the Greeks at the mercy of the Turks. From the safety of the ships, the Allies are forced to watch on as they have strict orders not to antagonize the Turks. Sophia flees to the harbour with several of her family. All the buildings are now on fire, thousands are either crushed to death, burnt by falling embers or fall into the sea which has become a quagmire of floating bodies and debris. Fearing an international backlash, the Allies now send out boats to rescue some of the survivors.
This is the culmination of the Asia Minor Catastrophe. Thousands are killed and except for the Turkish quarter, the beautiful cosmopolitan city of Smyrna lies in ruins. Two thousand years of Greek settlement in the city and the Aegean and Anatolian region comes to an end. Sophia survives but most of her family and friends do not. She leaves for Athens and will never set foot on Greek soil again. This chapter is one of the most harrowing scenes in the book.
Why not visit Kathryn at her blog: http://www.kathryngauci.com/blog/
|Blog – Kathryn Gauci
Author interview with John Manuel Over the next few months, A Literary World is taking a new angle and looking at writers whose novels are set in Greece.
Buy The Embroiderer
The Embroiderer is a beautifully written novel spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, set against the backdrop of the Greek War of Independence. It was published on 5th November 2014 and is available to buy in paperback and as an ebook.
You can order from all good bookshops and online retailers.
Purchase directly from the publisher here: www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk
Published by SilverWood Books Ltd.
Cornucopia is the award-winning magazine for connoisseurs of Turkey. The Embroiderer can also now be purchased from the Cornucopia web site.
Cornucopia: Turkey for Connoisseurs
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