The Island

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Read 30/01/2016-31/01/2016

Rating: 3.5 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt Challenge

This was a surprise, chosen at random from my local library, as per the instructions for day 12 of the reading challenge.

The Island explores the history of a leper colony located on Spiraling, an island off the shore of Crete. Victoria Hislop’s book is well-researched, and the back history of the leper colony alongside the history of German occupation during the Second World War lifts it above the average beach read.

There is plenty of romance and family saga about it, but it had the feel of a more serious book, similar to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres. Hislop has clearly put the research hours in to develop a solid background for her exploration of the relationships among the families living in the fishing village opposite to the colony. The story is framed as a family history mystery, with a young woman trying to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past as a distraction from and possible solution to her own unravelling relationship.

Hislop writes well, and the story flowed beautifully for the most part. There are a couple of passages where the action could move on more quickly and, towards the end, passages where she could have reined in the speed of her writing and made it more than mere exposition, but over all I was very impressed and will read more of Hislop’s books.

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