Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blog Tour and Book Review #15: CAFE TEMPEST: Adventures on a Small Greek Island by Barbara Bonfigli

Adventures on a Small Greek Island
A Fictional Memoir


When Sarah, a thirty-something American theatrical producer, is asked to direct the locals in their summer show, she picks Shakespeare's play The Tempest. What follows is a hilarious adventure in casting, rehearsing, and consuming. Her neighbors are excited about acting but delirious about eating. Their rehearsals in a deconsecrated church become a feast in four acts.

Armed with a sizzling wit, a dangerously limited Greek vocabulary, and a pitch-perfect ear for drama, Sarah navigates the major egos and minor storms of a cab driver Caliban, a postmaster Prospero, and a host of fishermen dukes and knaves.

When she falls in love, there are even trickier seas to navigate. Her own offstage romance provides an exhilarating, unpredictable counterpoint to Shakespeare's story of magic, intrigue, and the power of love.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

My Thoughts:
CAFE TEMPEST is an ambitious novel that covers a lot of territory. True, the setting is a small Greek island, but you will be exploring Sarah's heart, soul, sexuality, and spirituality.
As she sets to work on an article for Yoga Journal, Sarah examines various mantras, such as "The jewel is in the lotus" and "I am That," and how to invoke them for coping with daily life. When she agrees to direct the locals in a production of "The Tempest," she begins to see correlations between the mantras and Shakespeare. Needless to say, there are a lot of Shakespearean quotes tossed about, and a familiarity with "The Tempest" will enhance your enjoyment of this novel.
There is also a liberal sprinkling of Greek terminology and phrases which are translated as you read along. A small glossary at the back of the book helps for a quick reference.
Tossed into the pot of Eastern philosophy, Shakepearean and theater references, and Greek vocabulary is Sarah's bisexuality. All this is a lot for the reader to take on, and I sometimes felt more like an outsider looking in rather than having that sensation of stepping into the story. I think another reader with more of a background in theater and travel might not feel the same way.

CAFE TEMPEST often reads like a play -- the bulk of it is dialogue. I found this distacting at times as I tried to keep up with who said what. It made me realize how much I like descriptive prose. However, so much of the story is witty and flirtatious conversation, or scenes centering around misinterpretations due to inaccurate translations, that the abundance of dialogue is a necessary device.

Several recipes are included at the back of the book to tempt the culinarily inclined. For the truly adventuresome, the recipe for the Tempestini, the only retsina based cocktail, can be found on the author's website.

CAFE TEMPEST is illustrated throughout with beautifully evocotive line drawings and sketches by Gaia Franchetti - a special treat in themselves.

I would recommend CAFE TEMPEST to anyone who enjoys travel books, humor, Shakespeare and the theater, or is specifically interested in Greek culture and food.

About the author:

Barbara Bonfigli is an author, lyricist and theatrical producer. When she isn't writing songs or travel articles, or producing shows, she packs some French roast and catches a plane to Athens. Then a ferry or a hydrofoil to . . . but that's classified.

She hitchhiked to Greece in her first nomadic summer, and discovered her native land. She's been exploring it ever since -- hiking in the Pelion, kayaking in the Dodecanese, sailing the Aegean. In a tiny seaside taverna, over fried kalamari and a pitcher of homemade red, a few Greek families and she watched Obama conquer Berlin.
Maps are her recreational drug of choice. After wearing out five passports and four continents she uncorked her memories and imagination -- and a bottle or two of retsina -- to write her first novel, "Café Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island". It's a kind of "A Year in Provence" meets "Zorba the Greek". You are invited to the mythical island of Pharos, to laugh and dance in the hammock, not the cradle of Western civilization.

To learn about Barbara Bonfigli and CAFE TEMPEST, please visit any of these sites.

Order Café Tempest directly from the publisher - http://www.tellmepress.com/pub_ct.php

or from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Café-Tempest-Adventures-Small-Island/dp/0981645313

To see the complete tour schedule visit http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2009/05/cafe-tempest-by-barbara-bonfigli-summer.html

Visit Barbara Bonfigli's website - www.cafetempest.com
Thank you to Nikki Leigh and Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours
for organizing this tour
and for providing me with my review copy of CAFE TEMPEST.


Nikki Leigh said...

Hi Gwendolyn

Thank you for your review of Cafe Tempest and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I just noticed how nice the cover looks on your pale blue background.

Nikki Leigh

Lisa said...

I fall in several of the categories you would recommend this book for and might consider it. But where, oh where, are the 5 star books? I'd even settle for a 4 star book--it seems like almost every thing I read these days falls into the 3 star category!

Anonymous said...

I love the cover - it's just beautiful!

bermudaonion said...

I love great dialogue in a book, so this might be the book for me. Thanks for your review.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Looking forward to this one; great review.

Barbara Bonfigli said...

Thank you Gwendolyn for reading and reviewing my book. I'm happy that you've recommended it to people who like travel, theater, humor, Shakespeare and witty
dialogue. I'd say those are pretty good descriptions of my target audience, along with those who like a good multi-layered story. So I know Diane and Bermudaonion and Lit and Life are going to join in the celebration of life and baklava and the enlightened heart and I'd like to hear from you when you've read it.
And I want Rhapsodyinbooks to know that along with the dialogue there is a lot of descriptive prose in "Café Tempest" which inspired Gaia's terrific illustrations and that beautiful watercolor on the cover. Find an excerpt and several early reviews on my website www.cafetempest.com and please find me on Twitter of you'd like to share your own reactions.

Booklogged said...

Love the cover artwork.

Zibilee said...

I enjoy travel literature, so this might be something I would enjoy. It sounds like a slightly different kind of book, I am going to take a closer look.

Becca said...

Great review, Gwendolyn. I gave this book 3.5 stars myself.