Aphrodite - priest's wife, matriarch, illiterate - has lived in her village in the Peloponnese for 86 years. Her struggle and hardship have been echoed by national and international upheavals, by war, dictatorship and famine. In writing the story of her mother-in-law's life, Gillian Bouras recounts her own difficulties as an educated, independent Westerner coming to terms with a woman so culturally different and so domestically powerful. But this book is much more than Aphrodite's story. It is a remarkable counterpoint of the oral tradition and the literate, the personal and the political, of individual voices murmuring against the clamour of wider events. Bouras brings these two contrasting cultures into sharp relief, weaving them into something which is at once factual and richly imaginative.