Eland Books Published: 3 November 2016 Price: £12.99
The Villa Ariadne refers to the dig house that was built by Arthur Evans when he was excavating the Minoan ruins of Knossos in Crete. Dilys Powell was a journalist who wrote for the
Sunday Times for over 50 years and was married to Humfry Payne, one of the British archaeologists who worked at the site. Payne was Head of the British School of Athens between 1929 to his death in 1936 and Powell visited him frequently at Knossos.
This is a delightful book that weaves together the stories of the villa and those who stayed there: the autocratic founder, Arthur Evans but also his successor John Pendlebury, whose heroic leadership of the local defence against German invasion in 1941 made him a legend.
The villa was also the site of the daring kidnap of German General Kreipe by special operations officers, including Patrick Leigh Fermor, in 1944.
But The Villa Ariadne is far more than just their stories. Uniting ancient myths and history with first-hand observation and tales she has told, Powell leaves us a complex portrait of the island as a whole – a place she knew and loved for forty years.