To Hellas and Back – Book Review

Lana Penrose is a friend of mine who has successfully published her first 2 books with Penguin. She is now self- publishing and re-launching her books so I have written the review below to introduce you to her and her witty and honest portrayal of her time living in Greece as portrayed in To Hellas and Back.

When Australian-born Lana Penrose’s boyfriend Dion is offered the job of a lifetime in radio in Athens they are thrilled. Lana sees it as an opportunity to have a sabbatical, take a well-earned break from a hectic career and discover the joys of Greece.

Like all good Greek tragedies things start to unravel fairly quickly when they arrive in Athens and Lana discovers an inability to grasp learning Greek and a dislike for feta cheese. “For me, English was my one and only idiom and it seemed that the vernacular part of my brain was welded shut” says Penrose ruefully. Meanwhile Dion enthusiastically rediscovers and embraces his Greek heritage.

Lana is not allowed to work in Greece which meant she had time on her hands, living in a country that she experiences as confusing, unwelcoming and sometimes frightening. To Hellas and Back is dedicated to “The Displaced” which reflects how Penrose felt for those 4 years in Athens.

Penrose describes her slow decline into depression and despair as she fails to assimilate and over-come her culture-shock. She spends lonely hours unsuccessfully trying to find friends and a purpose to fill her days. She describes her new-found obsessions with ironing and hair removal and the slow disintegration of her relationship with raw truth and humour.

This is no pity-party though and her honest and raw account of her life in Athens is told with wit and a healthy ability to laugh at her struggles.  Penrose’s advice to those about to embark on a similar journey is “to read ‘To Hellas and Back’ and do the opposite of everything I did. In that way, you’re guaranteed happiness!”

She says that To Hellas and Back began as an idea for a guidebook for those visiting Athens – full of pith, wit and wisdom. It somehow evolved into a memoir that was first published by Penguin. This is a funny and poignant story that will make you laugh and cry.

Lana Penrose’s second book Kickstart My Heart follows on from her time in Athens. She arrives in London shell-shocked from her experiences in Athens and resumes her career, catering to a global pop sensation. She is now based in Sydney and is currently working on her third novel Addicted to Love. Her books are available digitally and in print from


15 thoughts on “To Hellas and Back – Book Review

  1. Hi Sue Ann, You write a great review! I have to tell you, the day I reblogged your article about boys reading I had the most number of views EVER!! About 100 more views than normal on a good day! The books you recommend sound great. I’ll have to order them. 🙂

  2. rimassolosailingaroundtheworldm says:

    Greece has so many a beautiful Islands,very a good for sailing from Island to Island.Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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