Among the Olive Groves is an historical set on the Greek island of Zakynthos. The characters and story are completely made up, but if you look hard enough in the World War Two sections you will discover a lot of facts that have been carefully woven into the story to give it as much authenticity as possible. Elena Petrakis, the lead character never actually existed. She is simply a fictitious person thought up for the sake of a story, but if you read any history books relating to Greece during World War Two, there are numerous accounts of women who joined the resistance and fought for their country, just as she did. There are so many stories of the incredible bravery and sacrifice these women made. Somehow it made them more harrowing to read than accounts of male Resistance fighters. I, therefore, felt it was important Elena became the Resistance fighter in Among the Olive Groves instead of Angelos. Elena, as a young woman and mother, had so much more to fight for, and in the end, so much more to lose.
Many other parts of Among the Olive Groves are also based on fact, including the rescue of the island’s Jewish population. Out of respect, I changed the names of the characters, but the depiction of what took place is as accurate as I could make it from the information of the time. The brave story of the Mayor and Bishop (Loukas Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos as they were known in real life) was something that I felt needed to be told. Many people have no idea that it happened. To potentially sacrifice themselves to the Germans to save the lives of 275 islanders is beyond heroic, and that bravery should never be forgotten.
Researching the book was incredibly difficult. None of the Museums in Greece have any information about Zakynthos during the Second World War. Sadly, most of Zakynthos’ historical information that was housed in the island’s local library etc. was destroyed, when a massive earthquake struck Zakynthos in 1953. The earthquake reduced the town, and many other areas on the island, to rubble. In the end, my Zakynthos World War Two research came from one book of information, a gathering of personal accounts from those who had lived through the war, along with a few small articles on the internet.
Despite the struggles I had researching, I did find the right information, and what I discovered was incredibly interesting. I tried to weave as much of it as I reasonably could, into the story. A few Zakynthians kindly read the book before it was published and confirmed that not only was the information correct but that it portrayed the island very much as it used to be.
Many people ask why I chose to write Among the Olive Groves and the answer is simple. To me, it’s more than just a book. It’s a way of showing readers what a beautiful place Zakynthos is, and why it should be visited. It’s also a way of explaining the island’s islands history, and heroic deeds to readers so that it stays alive in the minds of readers, and those who visit the island.
War-torn Zakynthos was part of something much bigger. Its residents had no choice but to fall to the Italians and Germans, but the Greek population still fought for themselves and for what they believed in. There were so many brave people like the character Elena Petrakis that lived through World War Two and fought so bravely for what they truly believed in. A great number of them were women, something that many people just don’t realise. Even now I think we could all learn a lot from those incredibly brave women, and my character Elena Petrakis
Among the Olive Groves is book one of The Zakynthian Family series.
Chrissie Parker is an English author of 8 published works, including novels, shorts stories and poetry.
To learn more, explore her website and learn more about her love of writing, the inspiration for her books and the country's she's visited on her travels! https://www.chrissieparker.com
When Among the Olive Groves was first published in 2014, I was so happy with everything to do with the book, including the cover, which was great. It’s been seen all over the world and is so recognisable.
Among the Olive Groves is now becoming book one of the Zakynthian Family series. A decision was made to refresh and rebrand the book with a new cover. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it is one that I’m glad has been made.
The new cover
The new Among the Olive Groves cover is very different from the old one. It has a bright, fresh, new look with colours that scream Zakynthos (Zante). It was decided that a unique look, with a connection to Zakynthos, was needed, so a talented artist who lives on Zakynthos, called Aimee Curry, was commissioned to paint the book image.
To say I was happy with her final painting was an understatement! The image she came up with was incredible, and it’s just perfect for the book. Aimee will now also be painting the book images for the next two books too.
Lawston Designs worked wonders on the final book cover, making Aimee's image really wonderful. I’m happy to reveal the new cover for Among the Olive Groves! I hope it will be loved by readers just as much as the old was, maybe even a bit more. I’m even more proud of this version of Among the Olive Groves than I was of the first one. It’s a perfect start to what will eventually be the Zakynthian Family Series.
Buy Among the Olive Groves
The new version of Among the Olive Groves is available to buy in both paperback and eBook, across multiple platforms.
You can also order from bookshops or libraries. The ISBN is:
The Zakynthian Family Series
Since Among the Olive Groves was published I have been asked by many readers, "What happened to the character Athena from Among the Olive Groves? I want to know more about her life."
The last readers saw of Athena was her leaving the island in a boat. Many readers wanted to know more about her life and why she gave Kate up for adoption.
After a lot of thought I agreed to write a follow up, to explain more about her life, which is now being written and called A Night of Thunder. I planned the whole book out and hoped to write approximately 80,000 words. The almost finished first draft is now at 75,000 words.
Unfortunately, I've not only been unwell, which has slowed progress, but the story has turned out to be much larger than I ever intended! So, because of this, there will now be a third and final book in what will now be known as The Zakynthian Family Series.
Book 1 of the Zakynthian Family Series ~ Among the Olive Groves
Book 2 of the Zakynthian Family Series ~ A Night of Thunder
Book 3 of the Zakynthian Family Series ~ Hope Under Blue Skies
We hope that Book 2, A Night of Thunder will be out sometime between October 2021 and Spring 2022, and Book 3, Hope Under Blue Skies sometime between Spring and Autumn 2022.
To follow the progress of the books, you can follow me on my Facebook page or join the Among the Olive Groves group dedicated to the book.
Thanks for your continued support, it means so much.
A Night of Thunder
A Night of Thunder Book Description
After escaping the clutches of the Germans on the Greek island of Zakynthos during World War Two, Richard Edwards finds himself adrift at sea looking after the daughter of a resistance fighter who saved his life. Unexpectedly landing in enemy territory Richard has to deal with threats at every turn as he tries to flee the enemy, protect a child that isn’t his own, and return home to England.
In the dusty bombed ruins of the city of Bristol, in England, Alice Morgan tries her best to carry on with her life as World War Two continues to ravage the country. Not knowing if her fiancé is alive or dead, Alice does what she can to get through each day and survive living a life that she did not choose, nor want and that she isn’t proud of.
The loss of Elena Petrakis, the mother of his missing daughter Athena, haunts Angelos Sarkis daily. His will to survive diminishes as the months pass. Only the love for his remaining daughter Sophia keeps him alive, when all else has been lost.
From the chaos of war torn Bristol and Zakynthos, to the horrors of the Greek mainland plunged into Civil War, A Night of Thunder is a haunting story of finding faith, having trust and living with the fragility of humanity.
Genre: Historical Fiction/triple timeline
Locations: Bristol UK, Mainland Greece, Zakynthos
Follow-up to Among the Olive Groves, book 2 in a 3 book series
Hope Under Blue Skies
Hope Under Blue Skies Book Description
The book description hasn't been confirmed for this book yet, but I can tell you that it follows Athena's life and the story takes readers through lots of great destination in Europe, including Athens, Crete and Zakynthos. We will also meet some old characters from Among the Old Groves as well as some new ones!
Genre: Historical Fiction/dual timeline
Locations: Bristol UK, Europe, Zakynthos
Follow-up to Among the Olive Groves/A Night of Thunder, book 3 in a 3 book series
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