Tag-Archive for ◊ isolated lepers ◊

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.