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The secret of Spinalonga - The Island
The Island - Victoria Hislop
Member Name: catsholiday
The Island - Victoria Hislop
Date: 14/07/09, updated on 16/08/11 (310 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to read, a story with a deeper message
There are a number of reviews about this book so i have tried to view it from a new angle - maybe I have failed but I hope not I have not told the story I have tried to look beyond that and not spoil it for readers to come.
This novel is the debut novel of Victoria Hislop, wife of Ian Hislop the editor of Private Eye. Prior to her novel writing she was a travel journalist and both this book and her next novel, 'The Return' are based in foreign lands, Crete and Spain respectively.
The Island is an international bestseller not sure if this was helped by he fact that it was selected by Richard and Judy for their Summer Read and thus got publicity on their show. It also won the "Newcomer of the Year" Award at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2007. Since this time it has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
I was given this book by my daughter as we are going to Crete in the next couple of weeks and I do enjoy books based in places where I have been or I am going. When I read the blurb on the back I wasn't sure as it mentions it is a story around the leper colony on the island of Spinlonga near Plaka in Crete. Despite this initial trepidation I decided I would go for it.
The story is a young girl's search to find her mother's past that she has never spoken of. The reader hears the story through an old friend of Alexis' mothers and I became so engrossed in that story that I forgot the original character and how she fitted in the history we were hearing.
I found the book was one that I looked forward to reading again after I left off but it was not the sort of story that you could not put down. It was not gripping or exciting, more interesting and intriguing. It is a story of relationships, love, betrayal, loyalty and secrets not an action story.
The characters are sympathetically portrayed and the life style of the people of Crete at the time is brought to life. We are left with a good idea of how Cretan people lived in the small fishing villages and also some idea about how the Nazi occupation affected their lives too.
I found this to be a well written, sensitive story with interesting characters. The fact that it was set in Crete made me want to find out more about the places she mentions in the book when I go in August.
I also learned quite a bit about leprosy and at the end of the book there is more information about leprosy which is still a major disease in countries outside Europe. I quote from this page;
"In 2004 over 400,000 new cases were diagnosed, around 70% in India".
I had no idea that leprosy was still such a major problem.
Underneath the information about leprosy there is a paragraph about the charity LEPRA and the work that is done by this charity. "It costs £21 to help cure a person of leprosy", which is a small amount compared to what we spend on face cream or perfume - it made me feel rather humble.
I do quite like it when there is more information about a fact that is central to a story I have read so this was a clever idea. It hopefully will also raise the awareness of this disease to the western world.
An easy book to read that deals with issues around an awful disease with sensitivity and a lot of hope. A novel about relationships and family set in the island of Crete around the time of WWII. And just after. It was an easy book to read as it was very well written in a light reading style, it dealt with serious issues but was not an academic heavy read. I would recommend this if you enjoy reading something quite light but not an action/thriller type of book.
Summary: Easy to read story set in Crete the story of a family and the disease lepsosy