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Bonfigli, Barbara

Barbara Bonfigli

Bonfigli, author, lyricist, theatrical producer—hitchhiked to Greece in her first nomadic summer and discovered her native land. She’s been exploring it ever since—hiking in the Pelion, kayaking in the Dodecanese, sailing the Aegean. She wore out five passports and four continents before settling down on a mythical Greek island to uncork her memories, her imagination, and a bottle or two of retsina. The result is her first novel, Café Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island.

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Welcome to Pharos, a small Greek island with no airport but plenty of means of escape. It’s a sparkling necklace of turquoise bays and sun-laced platias, where ice trays are still being test-marketed and donkeys have the right of way.

Your guide is Sarah, an independent thirty-something American writer and theatrical producer living in London. She's just had a hit in the West End and a breakup with her boyfriend, and she's returning to her favorite laid-back island to recover her equanimity.

Accompanied by her good friend Alexandra, Sarah throws herself into the vacationer’s art of swimming, daydreaming, and sharing an ouzo with her Greek pals. One is Theo, an aspiring suitor and Pharos’s only doctor. When he recruits her to direct the islanders’ summer play, she chooses Shakespeare’s The Tempest. What follows is a hilarious adventure in casting, rehearsing, and consuming, as she becomes entangled with a bunch of locals who are excited about acting but delirious about eating. Their rehearsals in a deconsecrated church become a feast in four acts.

Armed with a sizzling wit, a dangerously limited Greek vocabulary, and a pitch-perfect ear for drama, Sarah navigates the major egos and minor storms of a cab driver Caliban, a postmaster Prospero, and a host of fishermen dukes and knaves. When she falls in love, there are even trickier seas to navigate. Her own offstage romance provides an exhilarating, unpredictable counterpoint to Shakespeare’s tale of magic, intrigue, and the power of love.

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