Throughout our lives, we go through numerous changes. Some changes are of our own making, others are forced upon us.
When they're of our own making we feel euphoria and excitement. We look forward to the new chapter in our life, wondering where it'll lead us, and what fulfilling experiences we'll gain from it. When change is forced upon us by an unknown or unexpected entity however it can bring on a host of emotions; panic fear and stress.
Writing Among the Olive Groves was a huge challenge for me, as the entire book is about change, facing fears and characters searching for their identities. Elena Petrakis, one of the book's main characters, lives a quiet and peaceful existence on a beautiful Greek island called Zakynthos. It's the only home she's ever known. It's a laid-back idyll in the middle of the sea relatively untouched by the outside world. The real world seems a lifetime away and her life is normal and uncomplicated, full of tradition. Elena sees wonder in everything, be it the dawning of a new day, the blossoming of flowers, or the ripening of olives.
Suddenly World War Two hits and life changes for Elena and her family. They are forced into situations they never dreamed possible. Bravely Elena decides to fight against their invaders to protect the things that are most important to her; her family, her home and her freedom.
In the process of writing this book, I did lots of research to try and understand what Elena would have gone through. I read books about World War Two, the Greek Resistance, and what women, in particular, went through during the war. Nothing could have prepared me for what I learned. I was amazed at how many Greek women joined the resistance, to fight against their oppressors. It was one of the few ways they could help. Many of them put their lives and those of their families on the line, and not all of them survived. Even if they did survive they were never the same.
Nowadays we tend, as a society, to take life for granted. Most of us can do what we want when we want. We have endless amounts of technology at our fingertips to help us out with everything from instant communication, to buying food, to getting around. Life is easy, food, on the whole, is plentiful, and most of the time we control change. In comparison to those who lived during World War Two, we have it incredibly easy.
So how would it feel for the world you know to suddenly crumble around you? For your way of life to completely change. To lose your identity, be made a prisoner of your own town/village/island. To be put under curfew, to have your food and consumables rationed to the point of almost being non-existent. To feel desperately hungry all the time. To fear for your life and those you love.
I've no idea how I'd react. I don't think many people do. In some small way, though, I'd like to think I'd be like my character Elena. I'd hope that I'd find the strength she did, to fight for myself, to fight for my family and my beliefs, despite the consequences.
So when we go through life day by day, getting up, going to work, visiting our family popping to the pub with friends, we should remember those people who had their lives overturned by the changes of war. We should think of those people who sacrificed their lives and showed incredible bravery so we can live our lives the way we do nowadays. We should also remember that change can happen at any time. We all have to hope if it does, we'll have the freedom to manage it and live through it. We'll all have to be brave like those who came before us and remember the important things in life, our families, homes, and freedom.
AMONG THE OLIVE GROVES
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