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171 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful novel that makes you re-evaluate your views.
This has to be one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is certainly a quality book but without being heavy like an old classic. It is well-researched and contains powerful imagery and detailed descriptions of Crete. It makes you want to go and look up the places on the internet so you can see exactly where the novel is set. It is tragic without being...
Published on 16 July 2006 by P. Bradburn

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139 of 161 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Different books for different types of readers
I enjoyed The Island but I think it has to be admitted that it cast leprosy in an "old" light: a book mentioned below, John Tayman's The Colony was aimed at the serious reader who wants to know about leprosy from a non-fiction viewpoint, and Dinah Kung's Under Their Skin offers readers a more complex, engrossing novel where leprosy medicine is in the fabric of the story,...
Published on 20 Feb 2007 by student


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171 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful novel that makes you re-evaluate your views., 16 July 2006
This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
This has to be one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is certainly a quality book but without being heavy like an old classic. It is well-researched and contains powerful imagery and detailed descriptions of Crete. It makes you want to go and look up the places on the internet so you can see exactly where the novel is set. It is tragic without being upsetting. This novel makes you think about how we treat people today with certain illnesses and explores class, prejudice and discrimination wonderfully. It also makes you consider those who put themselves at risk for the sake of others and humbles the reader.

The story is well structured and I was not able to guess what was going to happen in the end, but the book was so enjoyable throughout that I certainly wasn't hankering to see what would happen at the end. This is one of those books I was sad to finish and will be pushed to find one so good to read next. I will definately be buying the author's next book and would highly recommend this to anyone who likes books that let you escape abroad in your own home but with a bit of substance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars plods along nicely, 4 Jun 2009
By 
BookBliss (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
A lot of people seem to have marked this book down based on it's portrayal of leprosy. My review of this book is based on the fact that it is a work of fiction which happens to feature characters with leprosy, it is not a text book so I have not looked into it's accuracy as I feel that to do that would take away from my enjoyment of a work of fiction. This isn't a criticism of those people who have commented on it in that way, if leprosy is something they know about then the book will be a let down to them if it is not accurate. I enjoyed this book and didn't want to detract from that by studying around it too closely, many great classics have been ruined for me by studying them at A level and beyond. When I've read the same books purely for pleasure I've found them infinitely more enjoyable.

Aside from the portrayal of lepers, I found this book an enjoyable read which was well crafted, you cared for the characters and it moved along at a reasonable speed. It's not an un-put-downable edge of your seat that has you gripped from beginning to end, more something to take to the beach with you to while away a few hours when you don't want to think too hard.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic beach read, 24 July 2006
By 
Amy Fox - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
This is a very touching and well written story. Hislop evokes real empathy for her characters' battles with the 'curse' of leprosy. The story details how the shame of the disease touched the lives of all affected family members, as well as the wider community. It is impossible not to feel the wrench of those who were exiled onto the leper colony of Spinalonga.

This is so well researched, that the events of the novel seemed real, without falling into the trap of writing a historical account. The plight of the central characters is so compelling that I couldn't put this book down. Further enhanced by beatiful depictions of it's Cretan setting, this book will encourage tourists to trek to Crete and the infamous Spinalonga. Sit back and enjoy...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, sweeping tale of love, loss and leprosy, 12 Aug 2010
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This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
I don't normally choose 'family saga' novels, but there was something very appealing about the premise of this one. Set on Crete, specifically around the little fishing village of Plaka, it tells the story of several generations of Petrakis women, and their ties to the leper colony on Spinalonga, the little island just off the coast. Alexis, British-born and half-Greek, is determined to find out about her mother's family history, despite her unfathomable secrecy. Finally relenting, Sofia sends her daughter to an old friend in Plaka, who finally tells her the story of her family, beginning with her great-grandmother Eleni and her great-grandfather Georgiou and continuing through the years to her mother's lifetime.

I found this to be a very evocative book, filled with the sights, sounds and scents of life in rural Greece. It was also quite educational, giving as it does a comprehensive, if fictionalised, account of life in the leper colony on Spinalonga. It taught me a lot about leprosy, in terms of the disease itself and of the way it was viewed by society at that time. Aspects of the stigma of having a disease and the embarrassment of its physical manifestation continue to ring true for other illnesses and disabilities today, providing an interesting comparison and a pause for reflection. The descriptions of the community on the island were alive with colour and feeling, and I felt myself sinking into the unfamiliar setting and becoming deeply absorbed in the narrative as the family's story unfolded.

I can't believe it's taken me so many years to finally get to this book, but I'm glad I finally plucked it down from the shelf and gave it the attention it deserves. I can see why this book became a bestseller, and I'll be recommending it heartily to anyone looking for a summer read with an wide sweep, a Mediterranean flavour, a thoughtful theme and a whole lot of heart.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly uplifting., 19 July 2006
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
I came to this novel thinking it would be quite melancholy, perhaps even a touch on the depressing, considering that it centres around a leper colony - the island of Spinalonga in Crete. However, I was surprised to find that there was humour in this book, and - despite sounding cheesy - there was also something uplifting and life-affirming about the book.

The story begins with Alexis - a young woman who is at a time in her life when she is questioning her decisions; particularly whether or nor she has a future with her boyfriend. Alexis's mother, Sofia, is very secretive about her own childhood and life before moving to London from Crete - Alexis only knows that she grew up in a small town called Plaka. Alexis believes that she would be able to persuade her mum to open up about her early life, rather than being so secrective, it may help her decide if her boyfriend and her are really meant for each other. Alexis really cannot understand her mother's motives for kepping so quiet.

Then, Sofia finally caves in; she tells her daughter that if she visits her hometown of Plaka, and seeks out her old friend, Fotini, this lady will be able to tell Alexis all she wants to know about her mother's early life - even beyond.

And so begins the story of Sofia and her ancestors. As Alexis is soon to find out, her story is intricately weaved with the history of a small leper colony, visible from Plaka itself - the island of Spinalonga.

This is the basic plot, there are many twists and turns along the way. Despite the book centring around such a stigmatised and misunderstood disease as leprosy, there is a tone to this novel which touches you as you read. The way Hislop describes how habitants of Plaka would be shipped to Spinalong virtually immediately after a positive diganosis of leprosy, is just stunning in how it stirs so many emotions. She does not overlook the effect such a disease has on a family as a whole once one person from that family has been diganosed. She really has succeeded in showing us something of humanity here - the way the inhabitants of Spinalonga adapt to their new comminity and build it up so as to make it almost enviable, is quite a success.

This book really does have everything. The characters are all well developed, they all seem quite 'real'. I would highly recommend this book for the summer - it may make you think more than you expected.
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139 of 161 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Different books for different types of readers, 20 Feb 2007
This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
I enjoyed The Island but I think it has to be admitted that it cast leprosy in an "old" light: a book mentioned below, John Tayman's The Colony was aimed at the serious reader who wants to know about leprosy from a non-fiction viewpoint, and Dinah Kung's Under Their Skin offers readers a more complex, engrossing novel where leprosy medicine is in the fabric of the story, but isn't the focus. The Island was obviously meant for beach reading, even said so on the cover. I'm studying public health so I'm thrilled to see authors looking at medicine this way for all kinds or levels of reading!
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155 of 180 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth our reading group's time, 14 Feb 2007
This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
We read this in tandem with Under Their Skin by D.L. Kung, and concluded that Hislop's efforts to capture the pathos of Spinalonga and the problems of leprosy were admirable, but let down by her bad writing and clunky plotting. Under Their Skin was a very modern story, and although the ending didn't suit everyone, its background on leprosy was breathtaking--you really finished knowing how things have changed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Below Average, 26 Jan 2007
By 
This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
In my (and the author's) defence: The Island does not represent the type of book I would normally go for. Please do not take it as a representation of my taste. But I ended up reading it as my reading group suggested it.

On a positive note, the writing style itself is pleasant. An easy, lazy, girly read. The author obviously put a lot of time and effort into the book and I very much appreciated her knowledge on the subject of leprosy. Something I knew nothing about.

However, the characters were extremely one-dimensional - either good or bad - and real people just aren't like that, making the story unbelievable. The lack of depth got to me in the end and I was bored stiff. I think it's a real shame as the setting and subject matter sounded promising.

If you are after a book where you don't have to think a great deal and still get some mild sense of enjoyment, this book is for you. If you like books you can really get your teeth into, that use beautiful language, that move you and make you reflect on your life and that take you to a world full of great, `real' characters, then steer well clear of this one.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable holiday read with a difference, 23 July 2006
By 
C. Mealing (Manchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
I found the book a bit of a cliche at first and I didn't think I would enjoy it as the writing didn't seem very accomplished. However, I gave it a chance and as I (and, I feel, the author) got more 'into it' the story improved page by page. Soon enough I was hooked and just couldn't put it down.

The issues explored in this novel, such as illness and prejudice, are dealt with very sympathetically and really give the reader something to think about. It's an ideal book to read on the beach as the descrptions of Crete are excellent, but its more than just another beach book. This is a story of emotion and intrigue that intricately explores each characters' relationships and feelings.

I would definitely recommend this book, its a must read.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject but a weak novel, 4 Jan 2011
By 
R. Miller - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island (Paperback)
The Island should be a really good read since the subject matter (the leper colony of Spinalonga off Crete) is so interesting. But it's let down by incredibly weak writing. Where were Hislop's editors when they were needed? She never uses one sentence when eight will do, the characters are thinly drawn, there is far too much unnecessary padding and the dialogue is clunky. We are always told what every character is thinking and feeling, nothing is left to the imagination. I also spotted some holes in the plot. Why did the inhabitants of Crete want to get rid of the colony when a rumour of leprosy infection circulated, but not when three main characters really were infected? And if Sofia didn't know who her real parents were, how was her paternal grandfather explained to her, when she went to stay with him once a month? A very unsatisfying read.
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The Island
The Island by Victoria Hislop (Paperback - 10 April 2006)
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