“… That summer we bought big straw hats. Maria’s had cherries around the rim, Infanta’s had forget-me-nots, and mine had poppies as red as fire. When we lay in the hayfield wearing them, the sky, the wildflowers and the three of us all melted into one…”
Three Summers is the story of three sisters growing up in Greece; their first loves, lies and secrets; their shared childhood experiences and their gradual growing apart. Maria, the oldest, is strong, sensual, keenly aware of society’s expectations. Infanta is beautiful, fiercely proud, aloof. Katerina is spirited, independent, off in a dream world of her own. There is also the mysterious Polish grandmother, the wily Captain Andreas, the self-involved Laura Parigori, and David with his Jewish mother Ruth from England … Katerina tells the story of these intertwined lives with imagination, humor, deep tenderness, and even a certain nostalgia. Three Summers is a romance with nature, with the whole planet. It is the declaration of a young girl in love with life itself.
When Three Summers was first published in France (Gallimard, 1950), Albert Camus wrote, “The sun has disappeared from books these days. That’s why they hinder our attempt to live instead of helping us. But the secret is still kept in your country, passed down from one initiate to another. You are one of those who pass it on. I feel a deep sense of complicity with this book.”
Karen Van Dyck is the Kimon A. Doukas Professor of Modern Greek Literature in the Classics Department at Columbia University. She writes on modern Greek and Greek diaspora literature, and gender and translation theory. She is the editor and a translator of Austerity Measures, an anthology of contemporary Greek poetry published by NYRB Poets.