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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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1,365625,622 (3.76)62
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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» See also 62 mentions

English (53)  Norwegian (4)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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 |
If I could divide this into 'the middle bit' and 'the beginning and the end' I'd give the middle bit five stars and the beginning and end about two and half. The book starts and ends with stilted chick lit. The central account of a leper colony in the mid twentieth century, through war and through the search for a cure for leprosy, was fascinating, evocative, and intelligent. ( )
  lexieconyngham | Jul 12, 2013 |
It's rare that I don't finish a book once I've started reading, very rare. I feel I made a commitment. I read 180 pages, but with over 300 to go I just don't care enough about the characters. Yes, I'm kind of interested to see how things work out, but that's all. I guess I shouldn't be surprised as it's not my usual sort of reading. Good thing it was free (three cheers for World Book Night). ( )
  eclecticdodo | Jun 24, 2013 |
Read this one at work, as lighter relief from Milton at home. It was OK, I suppose. All family trials and tribultions. Has Alexis debating of she wants to spend the rest of her life with Ed, who is superficially perfect, but sounds like an arse to me. However she, frankly, is a bit drippy too. Her mother has never spoken about her family or upbringing, but on a visit to Crete, she visits the village of her mother's birth, and finds out the long story from a friend of her mother's. the modern story bookends the past, but the two barely interact throughout the length of the book, so at no point do we discover how this is impacting on Alexis. All just a bit too neat and compartmentalised. The back story is pretty sensational, murder, adultery, leprosy and isolation on a leper island. The cover blurb described it as a beach book, and that about sums it up, it's mildly diverting, but that's about it. ( )
  Helenliz | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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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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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 6 descriptions

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