Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Island

Hello again from here! To tell you the truth, I do not know if my previous post was good, but never mind ...! Logically, they will get better as time goes by! Or at least I hope so... 
Today, I am going to write about my very favourite book, The Island. The author of this book is Victoria Hislop, a British journalist. The book is all about Spinalonga, an island in the gulf of Elounda in Crete. And you might say, so what??? The reason is that the island of Spinalonga is known is because it used to be a leper colony from 1903 until 1957. The author uses this fact on which to base her story. The idea for this book came to Ms Hislop after a holiday in Crete in 2001. During her stay in Crete, she stayed in Elounda and she found out about Spinalonga. Characteristically, she mentions that the tour guide said very little for Spinalonga. Specifically it said: ''abandoned leper colony at a short distance from the coast. Boats every half hour.''. The writer also mentions that the minute she set foot on Spinalonga, she decided that she wanted to write a novel about the island and it's role in society while it was still in use as a leper colony.

The book tells us the story of a girl, Alexis Fielding, a woman on the brink of a major decision, who decides to find out her family's past, which her mother refused to talk about. Knowing only that her mother grew up in Plaka, a small village in Crete, near Elound, she decides to travel to there to see what she can find out. Upon arriving there, she finds out about Spinalonga and meets a woman, Foteini, who was an old friend of her mother's, and who is the only one who can tell her the story of her family. A story that is closely linked with the Plaka and Spinalonga and which, in the end, has the ability to change the very future of the heroine.
I read this book two years ago, but I was reminded of it two weeks ago, when I visited Spinalonga. Which is a bit embarrassing really, as I go to Elounda almost every year and has been going for at least a decade! Nevertheless, I finally did it! I remember, however, that I had really enjoyed the book! I remember that my grandmother lent it to me, but it took me ages to get to the point of reading it, because I thought it would be a bit odd/weird... (It's not my fault that my grandmother usually reads very peculiar books!) But when I started reading it, I really could not put it down! I found the subject of the book to be interesting and it was very well-presented by the author. I learned many things about a subject on which I had heard only very little and only just know the basic facts that most people know. The score would give this book is 8/10, because I think it is really a book that is worth reading. I strongly believe that if someone decides to read this book, they will not regret it! And it's not only me speaking. My friend Linda absolutely loved it and so did my grandmother! 
A further incentive to read the book, at least for the Greeks, is the fact that Mega Channel has acquired the rights to make a weekly series based on the story. The series has already started filming in Elounda, Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) and Chania. It will star many well-known Greek actors.
And for those who have not seen Spinalonga, here are some pictures!

Spinalonga, as seen when approaching in the boat ...

The main gate through which the lepers reached the island (by boat from Plaka, located just opposite from Spinalonga) ...

And finally, a picture of Spinalonga from the air ...

As for the author, after '' The Island'', she has written another book called ''The Return''. This book takes place in the city of Grenada (Spain) and has some common elements with ''The Island'' (the heroine discovers the story of her family, this time without actually going to find out about it). Despite this basic similarity, this book is also very pleasant. But more about it in another post!
To conclude, here again are some links that are related to the book and the author.

Bye-bye for now!

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