Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

 

43884245Publisher: Headline

Publishing Date: 30th May 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover (out on 05.09.2019)| Paperback (out on 20.02.2020)

 

Synopsis:

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

Rating: four-stars

 

“Those Who Are Loved” follows the life of Themis, from childhood up to an old age. It was life full of events, love, loss and grief. Raised by her matriarch grandmother, Themis grows in a family that is full of disharmony, especially when it comes to politics. First living under Nazi occupation in Athens and then, when the war was over and everybody thought the worst is already behind them, the communist start to rule Greece, there are civil wars and there are many, many challenges to be faced by Themis and her family. You are going to learn that for sure she was not an ordinary woman.

I must admit, for a long time I had a feeling that it is simply a random read, that the author simply wanted to bring us closer to historical period that I, personally, didn’t know about. I didn’t feel engaged too much in the story, and I think that this time reading with Pigeonhole didn’t help – you need to get into the heart of the story in your own tempo, you need to have the possibility to read as much as you want to understand where the story is taking us. It took me a long time to finally start to appreciate the novel and to “get” it, and when I’ve eventually hit this point, there was nothing holding me back and there was probably nothing that could mend my broken heart. And in the end I can say that it was a powerful, incredibly important book.

The story was so immaculately researched and there was so much love to Greece and its history. The author has painted here a real, raw, genuine and fascinating picture, an motional journey full of pain and tears but also small acts of joy. There were many historical facts intertwined into the plot but it never felt like reading a history book – because the author has an incredible talent to mix them with so many personal touches and making the characters feel human and real.

Themis’s voice is distinctive and gentle, and even though she has experienced so much loss, pain and suffering she still finds it in her heart to be as objective as possible. The author was able to get into her character’s head so intensively that I had a feeling I was living and breathing with Themis. You don’t have to agree with her but you are still going to keep everything crossed for her. It was great to accompany her on her journey to adulthood, seeing how she grows up, how feisty and determined and full of passion she becomes in her life that was so full of turmoil and disharmony.
Actually, the author brings all the characters to life, and you could either agree with them or not, you could warm to them or not but they were very well drawn and significant and all them played a role in this story.

It was not only a historical fiction but an engrossing and rich family saga, a great picture of family dynamics, going deep into the feelings and emotions of all the characters, making you suffer and experience everything with them. I personally can’t imagine my family torn so heavily because of politics but the author has made it very believable in the story, showing how much and how badly it has affected the characters. It was also done so realistically, the real struggle of Themis to find her own way and her own beliefs. It was fascinating read with a difference about standing for yourself, fighting for your beliefs, not giving up but also knowing when it’s time to surrender, to realise your priorities, about bravery and determination, story about life versus death. A compelling novel about heartbreak, loss, regret and hope, full of significant moments that stay with you till the end. Victoria Hislop brings back the trauma of not only the repercussions of WWII in Greece, but she digs deeper and further, shedding light on the community divided by politics, on the cruelty and difficulties that Greek had to face after the war. Recommended!

 

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Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

 

29082369Publisher: Headline Review

Publishing Date: 22nd September 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Culture

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 01.06.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Cartes Postales from Greece is an extraordinary new book from Victoria Hislop, the Sunday Times Number One bestselling author of The Island, The Return, The Thread, and The Sunrise. It is fiction in full colour – magical and unique.

‘Victoria Hislop writes so vividly about the Med, you can almost feel the scorching heat’ Good Housekeeping

Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man’s odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A’s tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Beloved, bestselling author Victoria Hislop’s Cartes Postales from Greece is fiction illustrated with photographs that make this journey around Greece, already alive in the imagination, linger forever in the mind.

Rating: 5/5

I can’t actually believe it myself but “Cartes Postales from Greece” is my first book by Victoria Hislop – but what an introduction to this author it was! I’ve read this book in one day, which for me is like a world record, not because I am reading so slowly or something but because life always gets in the way. However, this time, I put everything aside as this book has just drawn me in and I didn’t want to put it down for a single second.

This novel doesn’t contain a storyline per se, as it consist of short stories. It starts introducing us to Ellie who is receiving postcards from Greece – postcards addressed to someone other but still coming through her letterbox, postcards signed with “A”. Ellie pins all of them on her wall – they are a real sunbeam in her otherwise grim and cloudy life. But one day, on the spur of the moment, she decides that she will travel to Greece – there is nothing that keeps her in London. On the day of her departure, a notebook arrives – a notebook that she takes with her on her travels and discovers that it is also written by “A”. And here is where the short stories, told by A, start – stories of his travels through Greece, recounts of his meetings with the Greek people and his re – telling the stories that the locals shared with him after offering him a place to sleep and something to eat.

This book only confirmed my beliefs that I want to see Greece. It was like reading partly myths, partly fiction and partly non – fiction and I loved this perfect mix. The stories were so different, funny, sad, heart – breaking, seeming possible or not possible to happen. It deals not only with feelings, relationships, family bonds, tradition but also with the very present state of economy or politics, and the powerlessness and anger of the characters are so realistically portrayed.
What is also so exceptional for this book is the fact that it is full of photos, illustrating the scenes or places that A visits. The photos are beautiful and they helped me to imagine and see the places even better – it was great to not only imagine things but also see them how they really are.
The author has a brilliant way describing the nature, places and bringing all the scents, sunsets to life. You could easily see that Victoria Hislop loves Greece and Greek people and that she very well understands them, their history and their tradition and that she has a lot of respect to all of the above mentioned.

This book is written in the most unusual way and it worked incredibly well for me. It is like reading stories within a story. They are so different and they are about different issues but I think that there are some things that they have in common – there is always a message in them, there is always love and hope and that in the battle of good against evil it is usually good that wins. They are inspiring and they are beautiful, those stories, and they are written in incredibly vivid and descriptive way. I think I can’t say that I have my favourite story as I loved all of them. They are all unforgettable, poignant and so true to life. It was quite emotional, unique book and I am incredibly happy that I was able to read it – it is for sure going to stay with me for a long time and I will be getting back to it. Highly recommended, not only if you love Greece!