The Island by Victoria Hislop

I bought my own copy of The Island to read for this review.

Blurb

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. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.

Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone’s throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. Then she finds Fotini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip…

Review

I’m on the blog tour for One August Night next month, which is the sequel to The Island. I first read The Island when it was released back in 2006. Somewhere in storage (we’re still recovering our belongings following the last two years of multiple moves and renovations) I have my original copy. Well thumbed as it was passed around various family members on my initial recommendation. It made the forever shelf. And whilst my memories of what exactly happened have long since faded, the memory of falling absolutely in love with the story and characters remain. I knew that I wanted to immerse myself once again and be reminded of everything that happened before diving into One August Night, and so I treated myself a copy for my Kindle.

The Island follows Alexis as she returns to her mother’s home country of Crete. With her life before moving to England shrouded in secrecy, Alexis uncovers the past as she comes to terms with making a life changing decision of her own. Focusing on the unforgettable Petrakis family and their connection with the leper colony on the island of Spinalonga.

Was it as good as I remembered?

That would be a hard yes. And I think I read it completely differently this time. When I read it first time around I would have been in my early twenties. To read it now with the hindsight of my own experience as a wife and as a mother I felt a much deeper emotional understanding. I felt a gut punch for the Petrakis family as they were cruelly ripped apart. I felt angry at the people for their lack of understanding, or even a desire to understand or feel any real compassion. And I loved the friendship between Maria and Fotini.

The Island has taken me, yet again, on a journey filled with multiple stops at anger, sadness and joy. It has everything that I love in a novel. Complex family dynamics, historical context, plenty of drama and love. It is full of heart and has been a joy to revisit. Immediately onto One August Night…..I can’t wait!

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