Kolias, Georgia. “The Feasting Virgin”, Bywater Books, 2020.
Love and Greek Cooking
Xeni is a first-generation Greek American who was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith, and trained in all of the necessary skills of a traditional Greek housewife. She is in her late-thirties and is a wonder in a Greek kitchen. She is a lesbian who daily struggles to decide what she wants and prays for a miracle. Callie is a free-spirited woman who has a baby that was conceived during a boozy one-night stand and she is trying to bridge a cultural divide with Gus, her Greek American baby daddy. When Xeni sees Callie out grocery shopping in the produce aisle selecting limp spinach and tofu for spanakopita, she feels compelled to help her.
Knowing that food can create miracles, and that both need one, it seemed to be a natural move. The two women seem to have natural chemistry developed during a cooking lesson but their good intentions fall apart when Gus’s mother comes from Greece and decides that Xeni and not Callie, would make the perfect Greek wife for Gus. Xeni then is forced to reconcile her religious beliefs with her sexuality.
Xeni’s desires as a grown woman that are at odds with her traditional Greek upbringing and she feels the safest as a woman alone. All that changes with a meeting with Callie that brings to the fore her desires to be accepted, to love and to become a mother.
Callie does not understand the Greek culture that she has become a part of, especially the food and its preparation. Then there is the way mothers and sons are attached so when her mother-in-law comes for a visit, Callie tries to be a good Greek cook. She does so t asking Xeni to help her. The two women then begin to look at desire.
The story is told through each character’s point of view but this is Xeni’s tale. We get quite a look at Greek culinary culture and an added bonus is the inclusion of wonderful recipes. It is hard not to love the characters and the plot is fascinating and fun to read. We have emotions and romance, naivete and angst in a special story that will appeal to many. I love the prose and felt I could smell the food cooking. It is a wonderful addition to our canon.I realize that I did not explain the title—- I wanted to leave that to you.