A little bit of Greek 🇬🇷 (#saraalexi)

Popped into the library this morning to return a book of which I’d read only the first chapter yet owed £2.38 in fines (it’s been a long summer 😂🙈).

The Curtis Brown Creative writing course I started this week (it’s online and called STARTING TO WRITE YOUR NOVEL) suggests we pick up at least ten books and read just the first page of each. (Don’t think I’ve gone mad.. I know I started my novel ten months ago, but I’d like to know the foundations I should perhaps have been putting down before starting to build 🙈).

An exercise to analyse how authors grab our attention and have us wanting to turn to page two, then three and so on. The mystery. The question. The hook as it’s known.

I had a genius idea and started to flick open books at random, having emptied my purse of coppers, to read their first pages.

So many different styles! Some set the scene describing the weather – although I’ve read somewhere that opening with weather descriptions has rather had its day. (Don’t go and re-write your first page if you’ve started with weather – I can tell you from this morning that many books get past the submission stage whilst gloomy clouds billow into view!).

The really spiky hooks, for me, are those that send a shiver along my skin. Or perhaps a dynamic and unexpected action of some sort. A shocking statement.

Of course, the cover is the first flirt a book has with us – unless we know and follow the author like a newborn foal follows its mother. Then, we couldn’t give two hoots what the cover shows, we know we just NEED it. And NOW.

This book caught my eye. Blue and white together are my favourite two colours 💙


From an idyllic Greek village steeped in tradition to the smoke and noise of 1970s Athens, In the Shade of the Monkey Puzzle Tree is a tale of a belated coming of age for one man whose dreams take him beyond the comfort of the only way of life he’s ever known.

Dissatisfied with life in a tiny village where nothing much happens, Theo, in his forties, makes a decision to move away from an uninspiring future running the village café, and from his controlling father who he feels will forever see him as a child.

Determined to make his mark and stand on his own, Theo travels to Athens to make a new life amongst the unpredictable, unfamiliar hustle and bustle of the city. But things do not turn out as expected, and time and again Theo finds his morals and honesty being tested, as urban life challenges all that he holds dear.

As Theo finds himself making bad choices and slowly becoming somebody he doesn’t like in order to survive, he is torn between sticking it out and returning home; that is if returning home is even an option after how he left things with his father.

As he discovers his humble needs are to earn his keep and find a woman to love and marry, will the unpredictable ways of life in the big city prove to be everything Theo wanted, or will the village really hold his heart?