From the Quill & Quire Review of Nicolai's Daughters by Ashleigh Gaul
Stella Leventoyannis Harvey, a founding member of the Whistler Writers Group, discovered inspiration for her first novel while visiting a monument to the Nazi massacre of 696 Greek men and boys in the Achaean region of Kalavryta. Nicolai’s Daughters flips between the perspectives of Nicolai, a Vancouver immigrant who returns to Achaea after the death of his wife, and his grown daughter Alexia, who retraces her father’s steps 24 years later. Both discover a family secret: Nicolai’s father let German soldiers sodomize him on the condition that his family be spared. While Nicolai runs from the revelation, Alexia decides to face up to its repercussions head-on.
The parallel narrative allows Harvey to demonstrate how differences in character and circumstance can result in drastically divergent life choices. In some of the more Oedipal scenes – when Alexia allows her father’s boyhood friend to seduce her, for example – the reappearance of characters at different historical periods maximizes the dramatic irony and impact. Short scenes push the complex plot forward, and Harvey’s simple sentence structures complement her harsher themes: abandonment, banishment, incest, and sacrifice.
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