Inspired by our own recent trip to Greece, I asked for Things Can Only Get Feta as a birthday present from my family. From the Amazon synopsis it sounded entertaining. And I’d like to visit the Peloponnese, the rugged three-fingered peninsula south west of Athens.
After an Arctic winter, a British recession, and a downturn in the newspaper industry, two journalists and their dog embark on an adventure in the wild and beautiful southern Peloponnese. A perfect plan, except for one thing – Greece is deep in economic crisis. And if fiscal failure can’t overturn the couple’s escapade in rural Greece, perhaps macabre local customs, a scorpion invasion, zero dog-tolerance, and eccentric expats will.
Marjory McGinn and her husband Jim are the escaping journalists. They settle for a year in a remote hillside village in the Mani region, middle finger of the peninsula and beloved home and resting place of famous explorer and travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor.
One of the hooks of the story is their dog, Wallace. But the yappy, ill-disciplined Jack Russell terrier is also a problem, terrorising the locals and messing with my own head. The pesky pooch dominates way too much of the flimsy narrative, to my mind.
Sure, there are some charming people, places and incidents uncovered by the author, as she embeds herself in the timeless rural community. And I enjoyed the insights into the Greek language and psyche, descriptions of the Mani terrain and some of the more bizarre incidents encountered in their year’s adventure, But I found her writing style a little annoying, I’m afraid, and I’m not sure I came to like the couple.
Worst of all, there are typographical and spelling errors sprinkled throughout Things Can Only Get Feta, like specks of the oily cheese crumbled on a Greek salad.
Stick to reading the master, Patrick Leigh Fermor, for better writing and a far deeper insight into Mani and its people. Without the dog.