Monday, May 10, 2010

The Greek's Virgin Bride

Nikos Vassilis has clawed his way up from the gutter to become a successful (and very wealthy) businessman. Acquiring Coustakis Inudstries will be the pinnacle of his achievements, but in order to do this he must marry Yiorgos Coustakis' grand-daughter. Andrea Fraser has never met her grandfather who cast her mother aside when his son made her pregnant, until she receives a letter summoning her to his home. Andrea decides to see him in the hopes of getting enough money to pay off her family debts and to move her sick mother to a better home.

Yes, this is indeed yet another "Blackmailed Into Marriage" plot, but it's a good one. Nikos is very annoying at the beginning: arrogantly accepting marriage to a woman he has never even seen or heard of; contemplating the need to be more discreet with his mistresses once he is married so as not to shame his wife etc. He does intend to be a good husband in his own way, but he's obviously completely clueless as to what lies ahead for him.

Yiorgos is simply awful. He is a horrid man who finally gets his comeuppance; no cheesy happy ending with him suddenly realising the error of his ways. He actually hits Andrea twice in front of Nikos, who unfortunately doesn't do anything about it apart from reprimanding Andrea for provoking her grandfather. It takes Nikos a whole day to finally get mad about Andrea being struck which really didn't endear him to me. Sure it's a different culture, but for a man to allow someone to beat on his fiancée in front of him is just not on, and I think most cultures would not find this acceptable (even if they would find it all right for the husband/fiancé to be doing the hitting). Nikos assumes that Andrea has been brought up with her grandfather's wealth, and is simply wilful and spoilt. He can't comprehend how she can be so unappreciative of her good fortune and so disrespectful to Yiorgos even if he is an ass. Once he finds out the truth of her background and Yiorgos' treatment of her and her mother, everything changes, and I found myself cheering him on.

Andrea was great. She actually plans ahead. She knows that she can't trust Yiorgos, and smartly makes plans to ensure her own well-being. She's not afraid to stand up to him. It's great to have a heroine with some brains. Of course she does the usual, "I've just realised I'm in love with my husband! He must never know!" trick which I have never understood, and runs away as soon as Nikos turns his back on her. I kind of understand that it was difficult for her to talk to him since she was fully aware that he married her to get her grandfather's business, but the way she leaves him is kind of odd and forced. It's clearly done to force the resolution of the story and get everyone declaring their undying love for each other. I would have found it much more natural if Andrea had just opened up and explained everything to Nikos before running away, or at the very least explaining it in her farewell letter. It probably wouldn't have been as exciting, but it would have been a lot more natural and still give Nikos his chance to shine.

I loved this book. It doesn't quite make my Must read pile, but it is definitely worth taking a look at.

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