First published in Greece in 1946, this novel follows three sisters growing up in the countryside near Athens before the Second World War. Living in a big old house surrounded by a beautiful garden are Maria, the oldest sister, as sexually bold as she is eager to settle down and have a family of her own; beautiful but distant Infanta; and dreamy and rebellious Katerina, an aspiring novelist through whose eyes the story is mostly observed.
Three Summers, by Magarita Liberaki (1919-2001), weaves a dreamy, cinematic tapestry of Greek village life ... Katerina's efforts to assemble a framework that reconciles her fantasies with the bewildering and disturbing facts she encounters make Three Summers both engaging and provocative. Liberaki skillfully raises questions; it's up to the reader to wrestle with them. As the book concludes, Katerina offers a resolution about love, women, and family. It may not tie up the novel's many mysteries, but it conjures a lovely rose-colored vision[.]
The girls move in this quite busy world, among a considerable variety of people, but the focus remains interior, almost floating in that sort of timeless late-adolescent world—with Maria, when she settles down, floating in the next such bubble, of a life dominated by her babies. It makes for an appealing and quite rich novel of young women's lives—with interesting secondary characters and stories, too—with some creative twists and touches by Liberaki in how she presents and unfolds her tale. There's a bit of narrative instability—creative Katerina isn't entirely given the reins—but even when Liberaki shifts to other story-forms (as with the diary excerpts) and suggests other perspectives the writing is strong and often arresting. A nice piece of work.
The great strength of the book, and its enduring freshness, lies in its evocation of a beloved, now vanished place and the panoply of characters whose stories the budding novelist narrator tells us through the use of an impressively successful first-person omniscient point of view ... A leisurely, largehearted coming-of-age novel, earthy and innocent, nostalgic and beautifully rendered.