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By Sara Wheeler
Reviewed by Carianne Carleo-Evangelist

I have an affinity for travel tales wherein the author takes the time to thoroughly explore their destination. In that respect, Evia does not disappoint, and it caught my attention from the very beginning. Wheeler's aim was to explore the relatively unknown Greek island of Evia, and she brings the island's charm to the reader in this book.

The island does not rely on picturesque beaches like in Santorini, nor monuments as in Athens. Wheeler captures Evia's small town, tradition-based charm through tales of a herder's wedding, the hospitality of monasteries, and the discovery of archaeological evidence of the island's previous culture. In doing this, Wheeler succeeds in bringing the island's history to life and relevance here in the 21st Century. Evia is not a relic of history, but an island community which has maintained its traditions, while still a contemporary society. Evia recognizes and embraces the things that make it special and distinct.

Wheeler does not get bogged down in historical details, which allows her narrative to proceed at a very readable pace. Instead, the author weaves the history in, especially as it relates to her experiences on the island and how they affected her. While it seems at times that she seeks out certain places in order to tell a particular story, this does not seem unnatural. In many ways, it is exactly what a traveler does. A crumb of history picked up in one town can lead a traveler to the next chapter in their own travel story.

The large part of Wheeler's success in exploring Evia stems from her choice and willingness to spend months on her own. As a traveler myself, I have learned that a city, country, or continent tells its stories best when the traveler is really listening, which can be difficult to do with the distractions which come when traveling with others. Sara Wheeler came to Evia a willing listener, she wanted to hear its story, a story the island willingly told her. In this book, with passion and polish, she tells that story to all of us.