THE ISLAND won Richard & Judy's Summer Read 2006, and was the Sunday Times number one paperback for eight weeks
Victoria Hislop is a writer and journalist. She writes travel features for the Sunday Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday and a number of magazines. She also writes regular features on education for the Daily Telegraph, and celebrity profiles for Woman & Home. Victoria lives in Kent with her husband, Ian Hislop, and their two children.
It would be hard to imagine a more cheerless setting for a novel than a leper colony on a remote Greek island, but the community of Spinalonga provides a remarkable backdrop for this affecting, multigenerational saga. At the outset of World War II, when she exhibits the first signs of leprosy, Eleni Petrakis is exiled to Spinalonga, an island off the coast of Crete. Leaving behind her husband and young daughters, Eleni believes her life is over. But the sun-soaked island, with its brightly painted houses and lively, well-run community, turns out to be a comfortable and humane refuge. Life is less kind to the family she had to forsake. While Maria remains a caring daughter to her single parent, sister Anna never recovers from the abandonment and grows into a cold and deceitful woman. In a cruel twist of fate, it is Maria who also falls prey to the disease on the eve of her wedding and who is sentenced to spend her own days on Spinalonga. Bookended by the present-day journey into her past by Anna's grown daughter, this debut novel is a deeply pleasurable read.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Kingston, Ont. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
'Hislop carefully evokes the lives of Cretans between the wars and during German occupation, but most commendable is her compassionate portrayal of the outcasts' Guardian -- Guardian 20050723 'Hislop is an exceptional writer with a strong voice who completely deserves rich success with this debut... Beautifully balanced, vivid and atmospheric prose' Newbury Weekly News -- Newbury Weekly News 20050811 'War, tragedy and passion unfurl against a Mediterranean backdrop in this engrossing debut novel' You magazine -- You magazine 20050811 'Wonderful descriptions, strong characters and an intimate portrait of island existence' Woman & Home -- Woman & Home 20050811 'Passionately engaged with its subject...the author has meticulously researched her fascinating background and medical facts' The Sunday Times -- The Sunday Times 20050811 'A page-turning tale that reminds us that love and life continue in even the most extraordinary of circumstances' Sunday Express -- Sunday Express 20050811 'Hislop's deep research, imagination and patent love of Crete creates a convincing portrait of times on the island. She writes evocatively of the minutiae of traditional life... She...manages to milk the dramatic potential of each unexpected twist and broken engagement, of the ruined and resurrected lives of her characters... A moving and absorbing holiday read that pulls at the heart strings' Evening Standard -- Evening Standard 20050606 'At last -- a beach book with a heart... Meticulous research into Cretan culture...packed with family sagas, doomed love affairs, devastating secrets... She also forces us to reflect on illness, both the nasty, narrow-mindedness of the healthy and the spirit of survival in the so-called "unclean". Her message seems as relevant today as it would have been a century ago' Observer -- Observer 20050606 'A moving and atmospheric tale' The Scotsman -- The Scotsman 20050606 'A promising debut' Grazia magazine -- Grazia 20050606
Travel writer Hislop's unwieldy debut novel opens with 25-year-old Alexis leaving Britain for Crete, her mother Sofia's homeland, hoping to ferret out the secrets of Sofia's past and thereby get a handle on her own turbulent life. Sofia's friend Fortini tells Alexis of her grandmother Anna, and great-aunt Maria. Their mother (Alexis's great-grandmother) contracted leprosy in 1939 and went off to a leper colony on the nearby island of Spinalonga, leaving them with their father. Anna snags a wealthy husband, Andreas, but smolders for his renegade cousin, Manoli. When philanderer Manoli chooses Maria, Anna is furious. Conveniently, Maria also contracts leprosy and is exiled, allowing Anna to conduct an affair with Manoli. Meanwhile, Maria feels an attraction to her doctor, who may have similar feelings. Though the plot is satisfyingly twisty, the characters play one note apiece (Anna is prone to dramatic outrages, Maria is humble and kind, and their love interests are jealous and aggressive). Hislop's portrayal of leprosy-those afflicted and the evolving treatment-during the 1940s and 1950s is convincing, but readers may find the narrative's preoccupation with chronicling the minutiae of daily life tedious. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.