Tag-Archive for ◊ Daily Telegraph ◊

Author:
• Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Diana Evans was born in London but lived part of her childhood in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied Media at the University of Sussex and obtained a Masters degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia.

She was a dancer before turning to journalism as a feature writer and critic for Marie Claire, The Independent, The Observer, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.

Diana Evans’ first novel 26 a, published in 2005, won the Orange Award for New Writers in the same year and received a nomination for the Guardian First Book Award. She was also short listed for the Whitbread First Novel and Commonwealth Best First Book Awards.

26 a has been translated into several languages. The Wonder, published in 2009, is Diana Evans second novel. Diana Evans lives in London, England.

26 a, Diana Evan’s first novel dedicated to her twin sister, Paula, is semi autobiographical, having lived the loss of Paula, who committed suicide in 1998 while a young adult. The story takes place mainly in Neasden, London and partly in Nigeria.

26 Waifer Avenue, Neasden, in North West London is the home of the Hunter family. 26 a is the loft where the identical twin-children and soul mate, Georgia and Bessi Hunter live and chose to barricade themselves from the outside world. They created their own haven where nobody was allowed in without knocking and where they could discuss important matters without interference.

They managed to secure their den from the oppressive atmosphere down below, in the house, with their homesick, melancholic, Nigerian mother, Ida, who discourses with “spirits” and their depressed, English, alcoholic father, Aubrey, who hasn’t learned “how to master his demons” and who turns from Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde, when he is drunk. Their elder sister Bel nurtured them and their younger sister, Kemy, was eager to become part of their secluded world as their third twin.

They built a childhood universe of make believe, where they felt they could fulfil their innocent dreams. Unfortunately, reality caught up with them as they became adults. They had to learn to break the unbreakable bond, their dependent magical relationship and grow apart by accepting that the “twoness” becomes a “oneness”.

A nostalgic, moving, bittersweet tale about searching for personal as well as cultural identity, skillfully written with a great deal of feeling and sensitivity. The poignantly dark, supernatural ending to the story creates a link to the emotionally two petrified furies of the beginning of the novel and contrast with the humoristic narration in between.

In the Observer issue of 6th February 2005, Diana Evans wrote under “My other half”, “A personal essay on twinness”, how after the suicide of her twin sister Paula, Diana felt her sister’s presence haunting her everywhere she went, even in her dreams. She was even speaking at times like her sister with the same voice, finding herself laughing the same way, which made her feel spooky.

Diana Evans felt that she was now living her life for two persons, her twin sister has always been part of her and remains very much so, even after her death. She went on to say that being a twin does not end when one of you disappears, “because there is never really only one of you. Once a twin, always a twin”.

If you enjoyed reading this article or found it useful, please consider donating the cost of a cup of coffee to help maintain the site...
Author:
• Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Victoria Hislop was born in Bromley Kent in England in 1959 but grew up some miles away, in Tonbridge. She read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, then worked first in book publishing, followed by advertising and public relations. After becoming a mother in 1990, she became a free-lance journalist, writing for the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday and High Life, before becoming an author. She currently lives in Sissinghurst, Kent, with her husband and two children.

Victoria Hislop has written two novels to date :
The Island published in April 2006 became a best seller in the UK, has won some awards and was translated into a dozen languages.
The Return published in April 2009

Victoria Hislop said that what inspires her most for writing her novels is visiting foreign cities and imagining her story in unfamiliar surroundings.

The Island is a four generation family saga set mainly in the seaside small fishing village of Plaka in Crete and Spinalonga, the small leper colony and tiny island facing it, going back to the nineteen thirties.

The novel begins in London with Alexis Fielding, a half English, half Greek, young lady who decides to travel to Greece and asks her mother, Sofia, if she can visit Plaka, her mother’s homeland, while visiting Greece.

Alexis would like to unveil a hidden family secret that she suspects that her mother has buried all these years from the family. After having her mother’s approval,combined with a letter her mother wrote to her old friend Fotini, Alexis goes on her “secret hunting expedition” in order to unearth the mysterious and devastating past of the Petrakis, her mother’s family, which Fotini unravels in a flash-back throughout the novel. Taking a few days which will seem like an eternity for Alexis.

The reader is taken back to the nineteen thirties, to learn about the suffering of the isolated lepers on Spinalonga, the small Greek island opposite Plaka. The story deals with grief, despair and deceit, but also, love, hope, loyalty, courage and redemption.

A well documented, engaging and richly imagined plot depicting the dignity and the delicate essence of human sufferings through prejudices and betrayals, despite the one dimensional description of the characters: the always good obedient Maria, the ambitious and persistently bad Anna, the ideal wife and teacher Eleni, not forgetting the bland Dr Kyritsis. None of the characters evolve during the whole tale.

An interesting story and a good read despite the rushed ending.