Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend... Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished at its proximity to the deserted island of Spinalonga - Greece's former leper colony. Then she finds Fortini, and hears the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters, and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip...
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Victoria Hislop is a writer and journalist. She writes travel features for the Sunday Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday and a number of magazines. She also writes regular features on education for the Daily Telegraph, celebrity profiles for Woman & Home, and a column in BBC Parenting magazine. Victoria lives in Kent with her husband, Ian Hislop, and their two children.Review:
'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 'Hislop carefully evokes the lives of Cretans between the wars and during German occupation, but most commendable is her compassionate portrayal of the outcasts' -- Guardian 20050811 'Hislop's deep research, imagination and patent love of Crete creates a convincing portrait of times on the island. She writes evocatively of the minutiae of traditional life... She...manages to milk the dramatic potential of each unexpected twist and broken engagement, of the ruined and resurrected lives of her characters... A moving and absorbing holiday read that pulls at the heart strings' -- Evening Standard 20050606 'Hislop is an exceptional writer with a strong voice who completely deserves rich success with this debut... Beautifully balanced, vivid and atmospheric prose' -- Newbury Weekly News 20050811 'A page-turning tale that reminds us that love and life continue in even the most extraordinary of circumstances' -- Sunday Express 20050811 A moving and atmospheric tale' -- The Scotsman 20050811 'War, tragedy and passion unfurl against a Mediterranean backdrop in this engrossing debut novel' -- You magazine 20050811 'Passionately engaged with its subject...the author has meticulously researched her fascinating background and medical facts' -- The Sunday Times 20050811 'Wonderful descriptions, strong characters and an intimate portrait of island existence' -- Woman & Home 20050811 'I thought this was an amazing novel... The author does not shrink from the grim details of the illness' progression and the reactions of the healthy to those afflicted. There is a warmth about the novel and I am sure I will remember it for a long time to come. I shall have great pleasure in recommending this to customers.' -- Bookseller, Ottakars, St Albans 20060203
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