An easier read than The Kingdom by the Sea and, although enjoyable, The Island isn’t a great read. The tale of four generations of Cretan women from the early 20th century to the start of the 21st century, the bulk of the book focuses on the twin coastal communities of Plaka and Spinalonga – the former home to the family at the centre of the tale and the latter a leper colony to which sufferers from all over Greece are sent. Sandwiched around this is the 21st century element, with the main characters’ twenty-something British descendant returning to Crete and discovering her family’s complicated history.
At times you can tell that this is a first novel – but the detail and history in the novel push it beyond chick lit and you come away having learned a lot about the history of Crete, leprosy and attitudes to it. Don’t be put off by the leper element – one of the key themes of the book is that lepers are normal human beings too.
Amazon.co.uk link: The Island – Victoria Hislop