The Island Victoria Hislop

Bookshelf , 23 September 2014

The Island / Victoria Hislop

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Victoria Hislop’s first novel follows the journey of Alexis Fielding who, in wanting to discover more about her inscrutable mother, unwittingly unearths a family history that is inextricably linked with the former leper colony of Spinalonga.

While learning about the doomed love affairs and tumultuous fortunes of the women in her family, Alexis also learns a great deal about the disease of leprosy and the horrors (and common misconceptions, of which there were many) surrounding those who suffered.

Hislop’s imagining of the process of leaving ones family and arriving on an island of which one knows nothing to live with fellow victims of leprosy is particularly well conceived.

The book is a triumph on account of its characterisation – the eccentricity and warmth found amongst some of the Spinalonga inhabitants (and mainlanders) and their determination to live joyfully amongst so much death and suffering made this unputdownable.

The Island by Victoria Hislop, £6.74 at foyles.co.uk.

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