Fear of Light by Julietta Harvey - review by Anna Van Dyk

Anna Van Dyk

Out of the Shadows

Fear of Light


Starhaven 225pp £12.50

Can a country ever forget its war-torn past and embrace a brighter future? This is what Julietta Harvey’s new novel considers through its exploration of the Greek Civil War and its complex legacy. Fotini Karela (known as ‘Fotoula’), who was imprisoned by her family in a dark basement for crimes of disobedience during the war, is discovered accidentally decades later by government workers visiting her remote village on an assignment to deliver electricity. The symbolism of this is clear; indeed, the entire book is heavy with metaphors. Fotoula (which means ‘light’ in Greek) is suffering not just physically but also from photophobia. She represents the tensions in her country between modern and rural, past and present, mythology and reality. Her story unravels as her family are put on trial in a case that captures the attention of the whole nation. With the spotlight shone on this run-down village, the government decides to modernise it, installing such luxuries as a school and a road. As one of the inhabitants says, ‘buried alive, she brought to others freedom and light’. Harvey’s tender book suggests that healing must come through dragging trauma out of the shadows and confronting it. Although the narrative

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