The Last of the Moussakas is a multi-layered story. The primary focus is upon Max and Georgios' relationship, but this aspect has an undercurrent of family relations revolving around why the Bergmann family are so disliked, to the point of hatred, by the Manolas family. The answer lies in the journal entries of a young girl, a journal dating back to World War II.
Max Bergmann and Georgios Manolas are childhood friends. Max was aware of his sexuality from a young age and has always had strong feelings for Georgios. Georgios, however, has never accepted he is gay, despite having feelings and being attracted to Max. It takes a personal scare for Max to realise that he needs to change his life, and that includes making Georgios face up to his attraction.
I thought this part of the story was very well done. It is easy to understand Georgios’ denial and hesitance. He is part of a very traditional Greek family and community, homosexuality is not readily accepted. However, once Georgios commits, he's all in, even if it does have to be hidden for a while. An added complication is that Max is a Bergmann, and this may be an even bigger obstacle than Max being a man, at least for the family.
This was my first book by Fearne Hill and I really enjoyed her writing style. The book is from a dual point of view, both Max and Georgios, and it flows well from one POV to the other. The diary entries also fit well without there feeling like there is a sudden stop to the story. They are placed at the of a chapter and signify either a change of POV or a shift in the story.
Similarly, I thought the characterisation was very well done. Both Max and Georgios are fully developed characters, complete with flaws, which only makes them seem all the more real. The secondary characters are anything but one dimensional and are as developed as they need to be to support the story, but it is easy to picture them in your mind – these are not cardboard cutouts!
Overall, I was kept engaged in the story and couldn’t help but become invested in Max and Georgios. I’d highly recommend this story. It is more than just a romance. It’s the present blending with the past, a family’s distrust and hatred spanning generations, and one man determined to make it right for the man he loves.