The Island Paperback – 10 Apr 2006
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'Adding depth and colour to the story is the description of Cretan life... in particular, the vividly detailed account of life on Spinalonga... It is one of the achievements of this thoughtful novel that it presents the lives of the island's inhabitants with such empathy. The result is a fascinating work that combines a moving love story witha plea for more understanding about this most cruel of diseases' (The Times)
At last - a beach book with a heart... Meticulous research into Cretan culture...packed with family sagas, doomed love affairs, devastating secrets... She also forces us to reflect on illness, both the nasty, narrow-mindedness of the healthy and the spirit of survival in the so-called "unclean". Her message seems as relevant today as it would have been a century ago (Observer)
'This is a vivid, moving and absorbing tale, with its sensitive, realistic engagement with all the consequences of, and stigma attached to leprosy, elevating it beyond holiday literature' (Observer)
'War, tragedy and passion unfurl against a Mediterranean backdrop in this engrossing debut novel' You magazine (You magazine)
'Gently gripping tale' (Scotsman on Sunday)
'Brings dignity and tenderness to her novel' (Telegraph)
'A promising debut' Grazia magazine (Grazia)
'A page-turning tale that reminds us that love and life continue in even the most extraordinary of circumstances' Sunday Express (Sunday Express)
'Hislop's deep research, imagination and patent love of Crete creates a convincing portrait of times on the island... A moving and absorbing holiday read' (Evening Standard)
'Passionately engaged with its subject...the author has meticulously researched her fascinating background and medical facts' (The Sunday Times)
A beautiful 10th anniversary paperback edition of the acclaimed million-copy number one bestseller, THE ISLANDSee all Product description
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It is not very informative in the medical sense, but a lovely story of love - romantic and family love, as well as the love of doctors for their patients and their chosen field. I enjoyed it immensely - both crying and feeling elated by the strength and bravery of the inhabitants of The Island, and those who love them.
I didn't get the beginning section - Alexis and her mother (who was stubbornly not saying anything) and I didn't therefore get the end section. And I didn't really care what happened to Alexis and I thought her mother was either a bit selfish or a bit stupid - can't decide which.
I was OK with the main, middle section of the book. I loved Eleni and Georgios and was OK with Maria so I had reason to carry on reading. But, there were sad sections and then some more sad sections and then, just when you think "Oh, thank goodness for that ..." we have another sad section. To be honest, I could not have read this in one or even two hits as it was, to me, a bit depressing (so I interspersed it with a Tiffany Aching treebook by the lovely Terry Pratchett). But, I did finish it.
However, I thought the ending was a bit rushed. Were the beginning bit and the ending tacked on to a perfectly reasonable pre-war/post-war story? And if so, why? I don't feel they added anything to the story at all.
The other thing that I still have not quite worked out is something about the writing. It's not over-written or too simplistic but it's there. It does not really go away. You know in some books you start reading and within a page or two you are in there, in the story, with the characters and not really conscious of reading any more. You are just with the story. You don't get that with this book. All the time I was reading I was conscious that I was reading. Annoying.
It gets 3 stars because of Georgios and his staying power and Eleni. (And something about the olives and the dancing and the brief mentions of the food.)
What's done is done.
There are some bad reviews about this book. And some really good ones. Don't be put off, it's a great book. Give it a try. I pick a book to read if it seems interesting to me. You can't keep everyone happy all the time. But it's a good author who can keep some people happy some of the time. Maybe one day I'll get to Spinalonga. Not as a patient I hope!!!!
But I do know that I'll be on Spinalonga very soon when I reread this book.
Happy reading everyone. Just keep an open mind and think of yourself in Crete. There are too many experts in this world today. And then again there are the people who know so much more than the experts. Don't listen to them. Make up your own mind.
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