I’m taking part in the blog tour today for One August Night. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part, and to the publishers, Headline for sending me a copy of the book. This review forms my honest opinion.
Beloved author Victoria Hislop returns to Crete in this long-anticipated sequel to her multi-million-copy
Number One bestseller, The Island.
25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.
When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people
of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy. In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.
Victoria Hislop returns to the world and characters she created in The Island – the award-winning novel that
remains one of the biggest selling reading group novels of the century. It is finally time to be reunited with
Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the island… and beyond.
I absolutely loved catching up with The Island recently in preparation for this blog tour, and it meant that I tore through One August Night, freshly familiar with the characters and their backstories. I can’t imagine that I would have got half the enjoyment out of it if I hadn’t done a catch up read first. This is without question a book that requires you to have read The Island first.
One August Night takes us back, once again to the night of celebration in Plaka as the last of the patients from Spinalonga, including Maria Petrakis, are discharged. Cured of leprosy, the disease they thought would kill them, it’s a night of great joy. Until an act of violence changes everything. While some key events in this novel were alluded to in The Island, this period of time remained somewhat of a mystery.
The main focus of the novel is on Maria, Manolis, Andreas and Antonis, and whilst Maria’s latter years were given a voice through Fotini and Sofia in The Island, the fate of the three men who loved Anna were largely absent. It really feels as if a thread is woven throughout and so when it is pulled, it creates a sense of wholeness I hadn’t realised The Island was missing. Although I felt thoroughly satisfied with the ending of the original, it wasn’t until I began to read the sequel that I discovered how much was still left to be told.
Whether it was because I read them back to back, I couldn’t say but I read this book like I was possessed. Great big greedy binge reads. And if I’m honest – I’m now slightly devastated at having finished both books which have dominated my bedtime reading for the last week or so – I’m hoping for more. Most possibly in vain – but I have hope that the past and the present will somehow collide again in this world, because these characters and their stories are so wonderfully told. I don’t want to let them go.
I’ve tried to find something I didn’t like to try and balance this. But I have nothing. The Island left such a long lasting impression – although I forgot the intricacies of the story, what remained was the memory of excitement and joy as I read it. And now it all feels a little like I’ve relived a moment in time through these books. Sometimes when you’re blogging and have a pile of books to read, it’s easy to forget the love of reading. How you can lose yourself in a story so absolutely that to close the book at any time is a massive wrench. The Island and One August Night have reminded me of that joy.
(PS. I was one of those eagle-eyed readers who spotted the slight name changes! It bugged me all the way through and was so glad the author addressed it at the end!)
One August Night is out now in paperback. If you’re convinced and would like to buy, please consider supporting a local indie bookshop by purchasing via Bookshop.org. And if you would consider supporting my local indie (The Rabbit Hole, North Lincolnshire) where I work a couple or so days a week – it would be so appreciated: The Rabbit Hole Bookshop UK
About the Author
Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island in 2005. It became an international bestseller, has sold more than six million copies and was turned into a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra. Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, and in the number one bestseller The Return she wrote about the painful secrets of its civil war. In The Thread, Victoria returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki and its people across the twentieth century. Shortlisted
for a British Book Award, it confirmed her reputation as an inspirational storyteller.
Her fourth novel, The Sunrise, about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the enduring ghost town of
Famagusta, was a Sunday Times number one bestseller. Cartes Postales from Greece, fiction illustrated
with photographs, followed and was one of the biggest selling books of 2016. The poignant and
powerful Those Who Are Loved was a Sunday Times number one hardback bestseller in 2019 and explores
a tempestuous period of modern Greek history through the eyes of a complex and compelling heroine.
Victoria’s most recent novel, One August Night, returns to Crete in the long-anticipated sequel to The
Island. The novel spent twelve weeks in the Top 10 hardback fiction charts.
Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. Victoria divides her time between England and Greece and in 2020, Victoria was granted honorary citizenship by the President of Greece. She was recently appointed patron of Knossos 2025, which is raising funds for a new research centre at one of Greece’s most significant archaeological sites. She is also on the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.