A true-to-life tale of a man’s struggle to find justice for his murdered cousin in spite of a powerful opponent and corrupt judiciary system.
Set in the early 2oth century, BETTER DEAD THAN DIVORCED follows the real life story of Panayota Nitsos, whose murder divides the small town of Kupaki into two factions: those who believe that his womanizing yet influential husband, George Nitsos, is behind the murder, and those who believe otherwise. The matter is taken to court, with Thanasis Konandreas leading the struggle to bring justice to his dead and domestically abused cousin.
It is easy to forget that the book is based on real people and events with Lukas Konandreas’ riveting descriptions of life in the mountain village of Kupaki, his childhood home, before, during, and after World War II. He may only be eight years old at the time of Panayota’s murder, but the astounding amount of detail with which he described every person and event in the story reflected the great deal of research that he gave this endeavor.
Small anecdotes, like his encounters with Father Kristas and the banters between his Uncle Mitros and Grandma Efthemia, added color to the narrative and made it more engaging. The images Konandreas used are also very telling, such as, “The two main cobblestone paths dissected the village like a cross,” symbolizing Kupaki’s deep sense of morality, and, “He found the plum trees in our garden weighed down by ripening fruit, their branches nearly touching the ground,” representing Thanasis’ burden as he fights for justice. The court trials were particularly gripping and full of suspense, revealing the intricacies of the Greek judiciary system in the 1950s and how a cold-blooded murder cannot simply be defined as black and white.
The point of view can be confusing and jarring at times, as the author sometimes shifts from third person omniscient to first person point of view. The similar-sounding Greek names can also cause confusion especially to non-Greek readers, but Konandreas provided a Dramatis Personae section at the end of the book for easy reference.
The events in BETTER DEAD THAN DIVORCED might have happened in a small Greek village more than half a century ago, but the lessons that they impart on the quest for justice and the power of unconditional filial love continue to ring true up to this day.