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The Island: Victoria Hislop

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 4:59 pm
by Netty
I read this during my recent holiday in Crete. I got to the last chapter on the plane home and then had to put the book in my bag so that I could read it later, alone, as I felt vast quantities of Kleenex might be needed -I'm not letting on as to whether they were or not - but it was a beautiful book and I really wished we could have visited Spinalonga during our stay....I will when we return :wink:

I would be interested to read other people's reviews on the book!


Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 10:30 pm
by katharine
I read most of it while on a trip to India last autumn, but still had a third of the book to go when I got on the plane home. I just read and read and read. A nine hour flight never went so fast. I haven't been to that end of the island so far, but will definitely want to see, if not visit Spinalonga. It was a really good read, well written, a good story and with that Cretan interest, which will appeal to most of us here.

Posted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:45 pm
by bannies
I first visited Spinalonga about 6 years ago while on holiday here and read the book The Island last year. Having visited the island it was all so real in the book. I visited again this year (I now live permanently in Eastern Crete) with a visiting friend who read the book after her visit. I was a amazed at the changes on the island, but either way Spinalonga is well worth a visit and the book a really good story based on so many true facts. :D

Posted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:17 pm
by lshall05
Just finished reading The Island. It was really good. I haven't visited Spinalonga yet (Alan has when he was over in May).

I'm really looking forward to visiting now!

Posted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:22 pm
by Ray
I could tell you some really funny stories about Spinalonga from the old days. Maybe I'll put them in my blog sometime . . .


Posted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:47 pm
by lshall05
Look forward to it!

Posted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:19 am
by Selena
i am reading it to my mum right now, just in the middle of it. Havent been to Spinalonga yet but its just up the road really so will make an effort when we are done! Pack the twins off to work with their dad...

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:53 pm
by Phaedra
I'm reading it now and seem to be at odds with most people as I'm really disappointed with it. It's a good story, yes, but when I first started reading it I thought the writing very amateurish. Lot's of badly constructed sentences which grated on me until I got used to the writing. The style reminds me very much of the Mills and Boon books my mother used to read.

Also there seem to be some geographical inconsistencies - or perhaps the sentence structure confused me! Eg, if someone is travelling from Neapoli to Plaka which are on the north side of the Lassithi mountains how can he see burnt villages on the south side of the same mountains?? Also the airfield at Maleme is described as being west of Iraklion. Whilst that is true it's more accurately described as west of Chania.

OK, so I'm picky -sorry. It's still a good story but, in my opinion, doesn't deserve the fulsome praise heaped on it.

Perhaps Ishould now go into hiding! :wink:

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:35 pm
by margarita
Your'e not alone, Phaedra.

I enjoyed the book because it was about something which was completely new to me, and which I found interesting. However, I agree that it was not very well written.

I remember reading a less than enthusastic review of the book when it first came and was later very surprised to see the praise that was lavished on it.

It seems that once it was on the Richard and Judy reading list it could do no wrong.


Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:43 pm
by andheath
I thought it was crap. Never read it but my mother-in-law has, it didn't stop her talking so it must be no good.

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:09 pm
by Retired in Crete
Mrs RIC has read it and enjoyed it - which means it is probably rubbish!

Why visit Spinalonga, which has only been derelict for fifty years when Crete has many other ruins which are thousands of years old?

The east has little to offer, why not visit a nice Venetian port in the west instead, where you can ride in a little carriage and see the sights like a proper tourist?


Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:37 pm
by Ray
I understand that Victoria Hislop is a travel journalist with the Daily Telegraph, I may be wrong. But the thing about journalists, at least people who write for a living, is that they are constantly looking for good subjects to write a best selling book.

Hislop came on a fortnight's holiday to Elounda, visited Spinalonga, the island just to the north of Elounda off Plaka, and she then went back to the UK, did some research and wrote what she hoped to be a best selling novel.

The question is, did she succeed?

Well the book has sold very well especially since it received good reviews from Richard and Judy among others. So, fair enough, she did that and hopefully made some money. Did she write a great literary novel? No, I don't think so. Maybe she never tried to.

The problem with 'The Island' is that it is a great book to read on a plane, a train or even a bus. For many it is a great story. But the characterisations are what some people call flat. They are not well rounded and it is not easy to remember people like that. The story lacks a great deal. The history of the island of Spinalonga is long and tragic. The fifty years or so of its status as a leper colony is small but dramatic in the mists of time. The language that Hislop uses is simple and lacks adjectival merit. It could have been written well, but it was written , shall we say, not so well. Rather like a cheap romance novel.

Many people like cheap romances though, so what can I say.

I read it once and I thought that it was not very good. The story lacked a lot of drama and it was hardly nailbiting. But then I know quite a lot about Spinalonga, about the tragedies there over five hundred years or more. The Island is a romantic class of novel, but not a great one. However when we compare it to the general quality of novels appearing these days, it is fair?


Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:03 pm
by Retired in Crete
Ray wrote:Hislop came on a fortnight's holiday to Elounda, visited Spinalonga, the island just to the north of Elounda off Plaka, and she then went back to the UK, did some research and wrote what she hoped to be a best selling novel.


At the risk of being pedantic this is not strictly true.

Victoria Hislop and her husband have a holiday home about 20 miles from Spinalonga. She is a frequent visitor to Crete.


Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:06 pm
by lshall05
I agree it is what I'd class as a holiday read. I've read some really good books that I thought would be a one off holiday read but have ended up reading everything the author writes... I've also read books by authors that I've followed for years and felt disappointed.

I wanted to read The Island because I heard various reviews about it (some good and some bad) but because the subject was something that I was interested in, I decided to read it.

Maybe the good reviews were only because of who she is (journalist and wife of Ian Hislop). At the end of the day, I got something out of it and that's all that matters. I couldn't tell you the names of most of the characters in the book but does it really matter in the long run...

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:17 pm
by Kilkis
Surely it is very little to do with Spinalonga. That is simply the setting and leprosy is the ingredient that makes it different. It is about people, relationships etc. OK it's not an epic. It won't win the Booker prize but have you ever enjoyed a Booker prize winner?

When it comes to literary appreciation I don't put myself at the top of the class. I like Mickey Spillane if you need a context. I still reckon it's a pretty good read. Yes it has got some factual inaccuracies but do they really matter?