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The Island by Victoria Hislop
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The Island (original 2005; edition 2007)

by Victoria Hislop

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1,413655,351 (3.75)63
Member:qosheba
Title:The Island
Authors:Victoria Hislop
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2007), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Fiction, 2012, Wheelers, Greece, Leprosy, Family Saga

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The Island by Victoria Hislop (2005)

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English (56)  Norwegian (4)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (64)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Historical novel about Crete and an ancient disease, leprosy, and it's impact from biblical times until its cure. April 2016 selection of Reading Club, most members really enjoyed book, felt the story was well told, characters well developed, we learned things about this ancient disease that we didn't know, and are interested in reading other books by author. Major criticism was they wanted more details about the island community of lepers and life there. ( )
  Gmomaj | Apr 27, 2016 |
This was a surprise, chosen at random from my local library. The book is well-researched, and the back history of the leper colony alongside the history of German occupation during the Second World War lifts it above the average beach read. There is plenty of romance and family saga about it, but it had the feel of a more serious book, similar to Louis de Berniere's books set on Kefalonia. Hislop writes well, and the story flowed beautifully for the most part. There are a couple of passages where the action could move on more quickly and, towards the end, passages where she could have reigned in the speed of her writing and made it more than mere exposition, but over all I was very impressed and will read more of Hislop's books. ( )
  missizicks | Jan 31, 2016 |
A formula pot boiler. Would have been well suited to the Mills and Boon imprint. The only reason I read it was that we'd visited Spinalonga on holiday. Not really worth the trouble. ( )
  Steve38 | Dec 27, 2015 |
An enjoyable and moving read, though I thought the modern 'bookends' to the story were unnecessary, and added little. I would have preferred the writer to concentrate on the story of Spinalonga. An appendix that gave a brief history of real-life Spinalonga would have also been very helpful. That's the problem with historical fiction that has some basis in reality. You're never quite sure what you've learned. ( )
  markbarnes | Jan 9, 2015 |
If this were made into a movie it might look a bit like Titanic, with its book-ends structure, and the old woman relaying a sad tale through romanticised lenses to a younger person who's new on the scene.

I liked the bits about the lepers. Every time someone was struck down with leprosy I sat up a bit straighter, hoping for some sort of insight into what it's really like to be afflicted with such a terrible disease and ostricised from friends and family. But the author's choice to write in distant omniscient third person meant I never really learnt what that feels like.

This is meant to be a quick read, so everything is given to us on a plate. It's one of those books where we're not painted a scene and left to work things out for ourselves; we're given both the scene and the narrator's judgement on it.

I found the judgement of Anna particularly harsh. The contrast of two sisters, one good, one bad, was too reminiscent of fairy-telling to offer much to the thinking adult reader. I found Anna the more interesting of the two. Maria was a hopeless, doe-eyed wet-dream of a character. The image of the beautiful, pious, meek and obedient Maria, standing on the shores of that island looking at the doctor will stay with me as an especially overdone romantic cliche. (In my mind there is wind. Blowing. Through her silky but unpretentiously adorned hair.)

I was feeling more positive about this book until after she got shot by her husband in a fit of (completely out-of-character) rage. When a fictional character stews on something and then acts like a mad person for five minutes it doesn't work. Well, authors do it, but it's been done so many times before. I'm not a huge fan of such melodrama.

These days I find it harder and harder to enjoy a light-hearted story about women who are basically chattels, as Cretan women were in those days. As I blossom into a curmudgeonly middle-aged woman, I frequently need to remind myself that we can't rewrite history; that's how things really were, and some women must've been happy, so why not write about them? But I got increasingly frustrated with this narrator. On page 426 she took the cake with the bit about what Giorgis was thinking after his daughter was murdered by her husband for sleeping with the husband's cousin: 'Though [Giorgis] wanted justice for Anna, he was never in any doubt that it was his daughter's behaviour that had triggered Andreas's violent reaction.'

Having recently read a book by Geraldine Brooks, this statement was far too reminiscent of the honor killings that still take place around this sorry world, and I felt pissed off that this book forms a sort of endorsement. The not-so-subtext message is: 'Well, you'll have to go to prison if you shoot your wife dead, but it's completely understandable that you killed her. After all, she was having sex with another *man*!!!!! That's YOUR honor she's taken off with, right there!!!!'

I hate that shit.

Yet many, many readers do so love this book. My mother borrowed someone else's copy on a cruise. She liked the story so much that she kindly bought a new copy and sent it straight to me, which is why I made it all the way to page 426 in the first place. ( )
  LynleyS | Feb 8, 2014 |
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For my mother, Mary
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A cold wind whipped through the narrow streets of Plaka and the chill of the autumnal air encircled the woman, paralysing her body and mind with a numbness that almost blocked her senses but could do nothering to alleviate her grief.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0755309510, Paperback)

Exterior: Small food stain on outer page edge. One spine crease. No other marks, tears or folds inside or out. Book is clean and intact.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past. But Sofia has never spoken of it.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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