The Island by Victoria Hislop

I’ve read most of Victoria Hislop’s books now but this is still my favourite. It’s the story of Alexis, a woman who goes to Greece in search of her family’s past, something her mother refused to talk about. She travels to Plaka, a village on Crete where her mother was born and realises it is right next to the tiny island of Spinalonga. And so the tragic tale of her family’s past begins to unfold. For much of the 20th century Spinalonga was Greece’s leper colony – one of the last in Europe. It only closed in 1957. I knew nothing about Spinalonga until picked this book up. But a few years ago we went to Crete and took a boat from Plaka to the island and walked around it. It was so eerie. The streets are still there, as is the lepers’ entrance to the island known as Dante’s Gate. Victoria Hislop has captured life on that island so well in her book that I could almost see the characters walking past me.

8 thoughts on “The Island by Victoria Hislop

  1. I loved this book too. I read it a long time ago but the story stays – haunting characters wrapped in a charming although sad story.

    1. Yes – beautifully told and fascinating given it is based on a real place.

  2. A wonderful, vivid evocation of time and place. This divided my book group and made for a brilliant discussion.

  3. One of my favourite books. Unforgettable characters and a story that will stay with you forever. I couldn’t put it down.

  4. Love, love, love this story. Especially vivid as I had visited Spinalonga, many years ago. As you say, you could imagine the characters walking past as you go along.

  5. I too read this some years ago and loved it! Victoria Hislop researches her subjects so thoroughly and all of her books have been a joy for me to read, although I have still to read her latest – Castes Postales – which is also on my wish list!

  6. I read this after visiting Spinalonga, and became a Victoria Hislop fan. I also enjoyed The Eagle of Spinalonga, by Nike Azoros.

  7. I have just returned from holiday. I always have a selection of books with me and this was by far my favourite, it was wonderful, I could not put it down.

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