Living on Crete’s south coast with a rambunctious seventeen-year old daughter for six weeks inspired my novel, Cally’s Way, about a woman in the Cretan Resistance during the Germans‘ brutal occupation in WWII.
Girls all over Greece overcame amazing odds, including their own families‘ ideas about the roles of women, to fight for their country’s freedom. On Crete, in the eastern Mediterranean, they helped save the lives of trapped Allied soldiers. My daughter and I read about the student who carried food past German patrols to two Australians hiding in the Koutaliotis Gorge, and about the girl who rowed a British soldier fifty miles out to Gavdos, an uninhabited island off the coast. Machine gun fire, strafing the boat from the air, opened the soldier’s side. The girl made him lie in the sea water flooding into the boat, to stop the bleeding and keep the wound clean.
Sixty years later, hiking on Crete’s mountainsides, we’d see old women dressed in black filling bags tied to their aprons with horta, edible greens. These women had been young during the Second World War. What was it like for them, we wondered?
Inevitably, my daughter met a young, handsome Cretan. Heart in my mouth, I had to watch her ride off into the evening with him on his motorcycle. She came home full of amazement about the mountaintop cemetery he had showed her, where oil-lit lamps on the tombs twinkled under the stars.
And one morning, while I was meditating, the plot line for Cally’s Way dropped into my head. The novel, which took the next twelve years to write, interweaves the 2002 story of Cally with that of her grandmother Callisto in 1941 – 1947. Cally’s Way was published by Iguana Books last March and is available at your favorite online retailer including Amazon.
What a lovely personal story, Jane. And gorgeous photos to inspire us all.