Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Kritsotopoula: Girl of Kritsa by Yvonne Payne

Delighted to welcome Yvonne Payne to the bookstore with her book Kritsotopoula: Girl of Kritsa.

About the book

Throughout her childhood exploits, the feisty daughter, Rodanthe, of Kritsa’s pappas (priest), yearns for her father’s approval without appreciating his efforts to keep her safe under Ottoman oppression.Years later, the ruling Pasha orders Rodanthe’s kidnap intent on making her his wife. Determined not to yield, Rodanthe tricks the Pasha, and then flees to the mountains dressed as a young man.

After joining rebels as Spanomanolis (Beardless Manolis), she draws on her unusual experiences and rare education to maintain her disguise throughout daring raids.Now, honored as Kritsotopoula (Girl of Kritsa), villagers celebrate Rodanthe’s exploits annually in front of a poignant stone carving. This monument portrays the moment in 1823 when brave Rodanthe’s secret was exposed – a point mirrored as this story culminates with a twist.

Infused with myths and local flavour this historical adventure gives insight to customs that still shape many lives in Kritsa today.

Two of the reviews for the book

A prodigious amount of work must have gone into this work of historical fiction. I notice from other reviewers that some have read the work more than once and I am not surprised. I suspect that this might be because the geographical detail and beautiful scenery create a ‘real’ world that cannot be absorbed on a first reading unless you know Eastern Crete very well or that the historical background which is both so graphic and so overwhelming a single read would not do the author justice. So this is not a criticism rather it is admiration for the huge amount of research which must have gone into the excellent writing of this book.

The story, based on truth, begins with the life of a young girl Rodanthe, in Ottoman occupied Eastern Crete, in the early 19th century. Loved by her mother, in awe of her father the Priest, her tale enfolds as she is forced, badly injured to take refuge in a cave occupied by another fugitive, a disfigured shepherdess, Thea. Brought back to health by Thea, Rodanthe must leave the cave and finds herself with nowhere to hide except in the world of young warriors, intent on taking Crete back from the Turks and with no option but to fight as a young lad. Until the last page, the reader will not find the last piece of the complex jigsaw that is Kritsotopoula. A huge number of realistic battle scenes may not be to everyone’s liking but the scenes of family life and stunning scenery will soften it!

And a review from Goodreads

Kathryn Gauci rated it four stars

The fearless fighting spirit of Cretans against foreign oppression is legendary. We only have to look at the fear resistance groups instilled in the Germans in WWII. In the first half of the 19th century, when this story is told, Crete was still under Ottoman domination and revolutionary bands hiding out in the mountains wreaked havoc on Turkish authority. In “Kritsotopoula”, author Yvonne Payne tells the story of the brief but heroic life of a young girl – Rodanthe – whose innocence is shattered by the brutality taking place in and around her village, Kritsa. Filling in the gaps of what is known about Rodanthe’s short life, she weaves a credible story of her life as a young girl, her kidnapping and intended marriage to a Turk, and her escape to the harsh and often inhospitable mountains of Crete’s Lassithi Province.

The women of Crete played an important role in standing side-by-side with their menfolk in the many uprisings but in Rodanthe’s case, she shed her feminine attire to dress and fight like a man. When the realization hits home that their Russian allies have abandoned them, the revolutionaries are faced with the inevitable. Determined to put down the revolt and aided by the Egyptian troops of Mehmet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt, the Turks set out to take their revenge.

To the battle-cry of “Freedom or Death” Rodanthe, known to her men as “the beardless one”, makes one last stand against the oppressors, ultimately losing her life.
Poignantly told, the author gives us a glimpse into Rodanthe’s thoughts. The writing style flows and I found myself drawn into Rodanthe’s cause. From a personal point of view, I would like to have seen more from the Turkish perspective, but that aside,, “Kritsotopoula” was an enjoyable read and for anyone interested in this turbulent period of Cretan history I highly recommend it.

Read all the reviews and buy the book on Amazon:

Read more reviews and follow Yvonne Payne on Goodreads:

About Yvonne Payne

In 2001, Yvonne Payne and her husband bought a house in the back streets of Kritsa, a village that nestles in the foothills of the Dikti Mountains in the east of Crete. From their small balcony their breath-taking view looks out across cluttered rooftops, a huge church, olive groves, and the distant sea, all framed by the Thripti Mountains.Over the next ten years, Yvonne explored eastern Crete extensivly, read up on local history, myths, and legends while experiencing village customs to gain inspiration to write creatively.

Luckily for Yvonne, this coincided with the opportunity to watch a fellow Kritsa resident, the English sculptor Nigel Ratcliffe, work on his beautiful stone monument dedicated to ‘Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa, who along with her rebel comrades, fought against Ottoman oppression in 1823. This carving became Yvonne’s ‘muse’ as she researched and wrote her first novel. Yvonne continues to find local inspiration for further novels

Connect to Yvonne Payne on her website and social media.

Amazon Author Page:

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Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Yvonne’s book on your own social media.. thanks Sally


11 thoughts on “Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Kritsotopoula: Girl of Kritsa by Yvonne Payne

  1. Pingback: Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Kritsotopoula: Girl of Kritsa by Yvonne Payne | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. First of all, thanks to Sally for inviting me inside this lovely bookstore. Then, thanks to page’s visitors for your welcoming comments. One of the things I love about blogging is the chance to ‘meet up’ with new people and what could be better than doing so over a cuppa in a lovely cafe.
    If anyone finds themselves in Kritsa do let me know, I’d love to give you a tour and show you Geoff’s cafe. X

    Liked by 1 person

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