From the moment she hears Lev’s violin for the first time, Helena Attlee is captivated. She is told that it is an Italian instrument, named after its former Russian owner. Eager to discover all she can about its ancestry, and the stories contained within its delicate wooden body, she sets out for its birthplace, Cremona, once the hometown of famous luthier Antonio Stradivari. This is the beginning of a beguiling journey whose end she could never have anticipated.
Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. Two vast lakes joined by underground rivers. Two lakes that seem to hold both the turbulent memories of the region’s past, and the secret of its enduring allure. Two lakes that have played a central role in Kapka Kassabova’s maternal family. As she journeys to her grandmother’s place of origin, Kassabova encounters a civilisational crossroads. The Lakes are set within the mountainous borderlands of North Macedonia, Albania and Greece, and crowned by the old Roman road, the via Egnatia. Once a trading and spiritual nexus of the southern Balkans, this lake region remains one of Eurasia’s most culturally diverse areas. By exploring on water and land the stories of poets, fishermen, and caretakers, misfits, rulers, and inheritors of war and exile, Kassabova uncovers the human history shaped by the Lakes.
‘Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’ was hailed as a masterpiece when it first appeared in 1942 and became ‘the central book’ of Rebecca West’s life. The book was completed as Yugoslavia was plunged into political turmoil, followed by invasion and warfare.