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The Island Paperback – Bargain Price, July 24, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
I really loved the way the author showed us what life on Spinalonga must have been like, that the people had hope and lived live to its fullest. She also addressed issues such as prejudicy against those that are different and how people's ignorance makes them act harshly and rashly towards others.
If I refer to the novel as a family saga that sounds trite. It's so much more. But I loved the unveiling of the family history, especially the relationships between the female relatives. And whilst the subject matter--leprosy--is harrowing, this is an uplifting read, one filled with hope. I found it impossible to put down.
No surprise that Greek TV channel Mega has created it into a series, also worth watching (if you underatand Greek, of course).
It wasn't and the reason lies in the stylistic format of the book. It is a story within a story of a young woman, Alexis, traveling to her mother's home village on Crete and discovering the family secrets that her mother had kept hidden from her all her life. The mother's life story is told in a style I would call newspaper reporting by an old woman from the village who had been best friends with the young woman's grandmother. Alexis's great grandmother and mother had been quarantined on the island after contracting leprosy. The actual events in the book are heart-wrenching: the mother of two young girls sent to the island to die, one of those daughters eventually being sent there on the eve of her wedding, the discovery of a cure for leprosy, a love kindled on the island, deceit, treachery, adultery. The events would have made me bawl, but the matter of fact reporting style strips them of any emotional impact whatsoever.
In addition I had some problems with the lack of character development. The device of a story within a story made the characters of the framing story (Alexis and Ed) paper characters who were vital only to get the story going. You knew immediately what would happen to them in the end.
However, the descriptions of Crete, especially after having just visited there, were rich and the author obviously knows her history. There are a lot of historical events packed in the book. I just so wished I cared.