'There's something about abandoned places which moves me and captures the imagination.' So says seasoned travel writer Jennifer Barclay as she walks with her dog and her backpack through the deserted spaces of the Dodecanese, islands that were once bustling but are now half forgotten and reclaimed by the wild due to a mix of misfortune and the lure of opportunity elsewhere. Join her on a journey through abandoned villages and farms, cave-houses and captains' mansions, the homes of displaced Muslim fishermen and poets, as she discovers beauty in the ruins, emptiness and silence, and inspiration in the stories of people's lives.A long-term resident of Greece, Jennifer Barclay spent more than four years researching Wild Abandon, visiting islands multiple times and hearing the stories of local people. She travels from the very west to the very east of the Dodecanese, from the very south almost to the very north, taking in some of the smallest and the biggest islands, and highlighting different stories along the way to show the complex history behind these havens of tranquillity.
She discovers a villa intended for Benito Mussolini's retirement, an island that links a gramophone from St Petersburg and a portrait in the American National Gallery via a pack of cigarettes, and reflects on the days when an economy based on sponges and burnt rock supported thousands.She also learns of connections with America: the painter from Kalymnos whose self-portrait hangs in the American National Gallery and the man in Kasos who was supposed to be painting the World Trade Center on 9/11. Inside a trunk in an abandoned house she finds a note with a hand-written address in New York. And she hears of the diaspora who made America their home: those from Nisyros who moved to New York, from Karpathos who settled in Baltimore, and from Halki and other islands who make Tarpon Springs, Florida the city with the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the United States.Wild Abandon is an elegy in praise of abandoned places and a search for lost knowledge through the wildest and most deserted locations.