K's Reviews > The Island

The Island by Victoria Hislop
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Mar 27, 10

bookshelves: bookclub
Recommended to K by: Ayala

"You must pay the rent!" the evil villain roared, twirling his diabolical mustache. He was her landlord, and he was an impatient man.

"But I can't pay the rent!" swooned the beautiful, hapless heroine. She was his tenant. Her breathtaking beauty was matched only by her saintliness. She was always being taken advantage of by the wicked people around her, yet she was committed to remaining good.

"You must pay the rent!"
"But I can't pay the rent!"

"I'll pay the rent!" shouted the mysterious stranger. He was known for rescuing damsels in distress. Everyone in the little town respected him, because he was special. He immediately felt passionate toward the heroine, although they'd never met.

"My hero," swooned the heroine.

If this is your idea of a well-written story then you may very well like this book, which read more or less this way for 474 pages. "The Island" opens with Alexis, taking a trip to Crete with her boyfriend of five years. Ed, the boyfriend, comes across as a total jerk; for some reason, though, Alexis has remained in the relationship and is undecided about whether to end it. Before her vacation, Alexis is instructed by her mother, Sofia, to deliver a letter to Sofia's old friend Fotini whom Alexis conveniently bumps into. The letter instructs Fotini to reveal the details of Sofia's past to Alexis, something Sofia has found impossible to do.

Fotini's narrative then begins with Eleni, Alexis's great-grandmother, exiled to the island of Spinalonga when she is found to be leprous.
After some time spent at the leper colony Eleni dies, and we read about Eleni's two daughters -- Anna, headstrong, impulsive, selfish, and beautiful, and Maria, dutiful and saintly. Anna rejects her family, marries a rich man whom she doesn't love, has an affair with his first cousin (who conveniently resembles him), and gives birth to a daughter, Sofia. Maria, the good daughter, devotedly cares for their aging father until she, too, is found leprous and is exiled to Spinalonga. Maria is cured, though, and returns to her hometown. Alas, Anna's husband discovers Anna's affair and kills her, and Maria, who has now found true love, feels she must sacrifice herself to care for their father. But it all works out in the end -- Maria's beloved moves to her hometown to marry her, and they adopt Sofia. At eighteen, Sofia has a freak attack when she learns the story of her origins and leaves Crete for England, marrying and giving birth to Alexis.

I think what really killed this book for me, more than the clicheed plot twists and cardboard characters, was the writing style. Hislop continually felt a need to point out the obvious, used far too much exposition and far too little dialogue, and seemed to embrace a "tell don't show" writing policy. The unusual idea of writing about a leper colony was the book's one redeeming feature in my opinion, but if that appeals to you, read Moloka'i instead -- it wasn't amazing, but it was way better than 474 pages of "You must pay the rent!"
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Reading Progress

03/25/2010 page 35
7.38% "Not too far in, but already some MAJOR eye-rolling moments. I'm only finishing this for the book club's sake. And so I can rip it here!"

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Alan Strange. I really enjoyed it.


message 2: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K I'm sure many people did.


message 3: by Abra (new)

Abra I love this review. The diabolical landlord and beautiful heroine made me laugh.


message 4: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks so much, Abra!


message 5: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Mckay Awesome review. Thank you for keeping me from wasting my time!


message 6: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Leslie! Always happy to help -- reading time is too short!


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