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The Thread

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A beautiful and epic novel that spans nearly a hundred years, The Thread is a magnificent story of a friendship and a love that endures through the catastrophes and upheavals of the twentieth century--both natural and man-made--in the turbulent city of Thessaloniki, Greece. Victoria Hislop, internationally bestselling author of The Island and The Return, has written a wonderfully evocative and enthralling saga enriched by deep emotion and sweeping historical events, from fire to civil war to Nazi brutality and economic collapse. The Thread is historical fiction at its finest, colorful and captivating with truly unforgettable characters--a novel that brilliant captures the energy and life of this singular Greek city.

390 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Victoria Hislop

48 books1,583 followers
Victoria Hislop read English at Oxford, and worked in publishing, PR and as a journalist before becoming a novelist. She is married with two children.

Her first novel, The Island, held the number one slot in the Sunday Times paperback charts for eight consecutive weeks and has sold over two million copies worldwide. Victoria was the Newcomer of the Year at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2007 and won the Richard & Judy Summer Read competition.

Her second novel, The Return, was also a Sunday Times number one bestseller, and her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. A short story collection, One Cretan Evening, was published in September and both a third novel, The Thread is published in English in October and in Greek in November 2011.

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5 stars
5,274 (35%)
4 stars
5,936 (40%)
3 stars
2,715 (18%)
2 stars
642 (4%)
1 star
166 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,234 reviews
Profile Image for Kim.
5 reviews3 followers
June 11, 2012
The sweeping historical detail of this book carried me through the first third before something started to niggle. I just couldn't engage with the characters and their reactions to things constantly surprised me, as a reader I ofen find myself seeing and feeling through the eyes of a character, but with this book I stayed an outside observer. When I started to analyse what the probelm was, I realised that although the author is very good at the history part, when it comes to people she writes in a very spare and detached way. She doesn't show the reader how a character is feeling, she tells them - which for me meant that I never felt what the characters were feeling. It suprised me constantly that I didn't feel the fear and pain I was being told that the characters were experiencing, and it meant that I spent the whole reading experience from the outside never being absorbed into it. I couldn't help comparing it to City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin (the late Diana Norman)which begins in Berlin in 1922 and looks at the rise of Nazism from a Jewish and German perspective. I have never felt oppression and fear like I did in that book and it stayed with me for a very long time afterwards. If I could give any advice to Ms Hislop it would be to please SHOW, not TELL.
Profile Image for Hannah.
94 reviews17 followers
May 22, 2012
I really enjoyed The Island, despite its flaws and I was hoping for a similarly good plot with The Thread, but I was pretty disappointed.

The history of the novel was interesting, but it really dragged on and on in the last quarter of the book as there was no climactic scene like in The Island. On the face of it, the novel was fine but there were just too many problems with it for me to give it more than two stars. For a start all the characters were either good or bad, selfish or selfless. The poor were wonderful people with tonnes of friends and the rich only cared about money and were ultimately miserable and alone. I realise the Moreno family was an exception to this, but they still chose to live in the poorest part of the city and were therefore wonderful.

I also had issues with inconsistencies in characters, like the fact that Hislop makes a point of saying the twins have "little in common" besides their looks, before going on to say they both want to be tobacco graders, they both dislike school and have no interest in their mother's weaving, and later on they are practically finishing each other's sentences.

It bugged me that there was very little reason given for why Eugenia takes in the five-year-old Katerina and raises her, and no real gratitude or reflection on this from Katerina's point of view. Later on Katerina says the fact that a soldier picked her up and threw her on a boat out of dangerous Smyrna as "the greatest kindness that's ever been shown to me". Err, what about a woman taking you in, feeding you, clothing you, and making you part of her family without anyone even asking her to?! There were moments and inconsistencies like that throughout the novel which just wound me up.

There was simply too much stuff happening and too many characters to make anything in particularly meaningful in my view. I wanted Hislop to stop, take a breath and really explore what was going on in a scene or era - it seemed rushed and not nearly enough attention was given to the narrative, which seemed confused in places.

I enjoyed learning about the history of the city, which I wouldn't have discovered otherwise, but the actual story and how it was told left a lot to be desired.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alon Motro.
8 reviews1 follower
August 17, 2013
On the surface this melodramatic historical novel sounds appealing and interesting. When I heard the book was set in Thessaloniki (the town of my great grandmother) and that it dealt with Jewish and Sephardic heritage I was intrigued.

However, after 50 pages or so, the book's weaknesses started to outperform its strengths.

Hislop's writing is very mediocre. When she wants to compare something or show a contrasting situation she inevitably uses a simple metaphor to get the point across. The dialogue was simple and corny.

Her characters were completely flat. Good or bad, evil or moral. Poor or rich. There was no in-between and very little gray area. As others have mentioned - the rich were generally seen as corrupt and unsympathetic while the poor were honest, hardworking and loving.

There were also inconsistencies within the novel. In one sentence she writes that it was almost impossible to get lost in the city and 4 pages later Eugenia gets lost and finds the little church.

Any emotions or feelings the characters had was told rather than shown (and sometimes neither). Thus it was very hard to identify with them.

While the history of the city and Greece as a whole was something new and informative the author was inconsistent again - some major events took up several chapters while others were glossed over in a few paragraphs. It was too obvious she was simply interested in using the events to interweave the characters' lives.

Mediocre...
15 reviews1 follower
August 9, 2012
I was reluctant to ready this book. Why ? Well, I have read a lot of books about this era of Greek history, but other than Louis de Bernieres, never one written by a British author.
My wife had bought me a copy for Christmas, and I had put it under the bed, dismissing it as a middle class British woman's attempt to imagine a subject she can't possibly know that well. But I picked it up again when people started talking to me about it. I was wrong and I am glad I persevered. Hislop knows Greece well. This is a very moving story of a Greek family being thrown out of Asia Minor and arriving in Salonica to live alongside Muslim and Jewish neighbours, set against the backdrop of the torrid and very tragic history of Greece and particularly Salonica through the 20th century. It's the first time as far as I know, that this subject matter has been written about by a popular British author. The story itself is tragic and simultaneously beautiful. My only criticism is that in her rush to go through all the eras of 20th century Greek history (a subject she understands very well), Hislop at times fails to develop the characters sufficiently and some of the plot lines blend into an easy outcome at times. And there are a few mistakes in the book like using the male ending for one of the female characters names throughout the book. But otherwise this is a very good piece of writing, one which will move you, teach you about an era of Greek history which is not widely known or understood, and give you some insights as to why Greece is going through the problems it is going through today.
I like it when someone proves me wrong ! A surprisingly good read and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Trish.
9 reviews1 follower
September 20, 2011
The Thread - Victoria Hislop

Katerina Sarafoglou, a young seamstress with exceptional talent, creates beautiful gowns for the rich ladies of Thessaloniki in Greece, the passion for her work shining through as her needle threads its way through the fine silks and wools.

Victoria Hislop's new novel, The Thread, weaves a story of love, family feuds, resilience and loss against a backdrop of the turbulent history of Greece, and, in particular, the northern city of Thessaloniki, throughout the 20th Century.

After her highly successful first novel, The Island, which was set in Crete and the leper island of Spinalonga, Victoria set her second novel, The Return, in 1930s Spain. In this, her third, widely-anticipated, novel, she returns to Greece and readers are once again treated to a tale which not only ticks the boxes for providing a heart-warming love story, but enlightens and educates with an accurate, fascinating insight into the history of this region.

This is how I like my history; a social interpretation of how political, religious and environmental forces affect people in their day to day lives. In 1917 we learn that Thessaloniki is devastated by a fire which has a huge impact on the future of this multi-cultural city, where Christians, Muslims and Jews were living together in a fairly successful symbiotic way. Add two world wars, civil war, communism versus nationalism and it's clear that the city is never going to be the same again for its inhabitants.

The book begins in 2007 so we know the outcome of the relationship for the two main characters, Katerina and Dimitri, before we are taken back to the beginning of their lives. Having knowledge of the ending doesn't, in fact, detract from the enjoyment of the narrative: there are enough questions, surprises and anxious moments to keep the reader entranced from beginning to end.

I suspect comparisons will be made with Louis de Bernieres' Captain Corelli's Mandolin and it's true this book will excite imagination and encourage travel to Thessaloniki to experience the spirit of a city nestling in the arms of the ever-present Mount Olympus. But for me this book has the same emotional appeal as Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns. In that novel I was able to appreciate how political changes and religious extremes impact on normal, diligent families and their neighbours in Afghanistan: in The Thread similar trials are thrust upon a group of hard-working, tolerant, loving individuals in war-torn Greece. Their specific stories may be fictional but their voices are real and resonant.

Profile Image for Michelle.
1,332 reviews107 followers
February 3, 2023
Parts were a bit uncomfortable to read but overall I really enjoyed this book and would read more of her titles.

Five stars.
Profile Image for Agaph Georgiadou.
57 reviews8 followers
May 17, 2022
Το νημα της Hislop!Πολύ αξιόλογο ιστορικό βιβλιο με φόντο τη Θεσσαλονίκη μέσα από την πορεία των ηρωων ξεκινώντας από την φωτιά του 1917,την Μικρασιατική καταστροφη της Σμυρνης ,την ανταλλαγή πληθυσμού, τον Β Παγκόσμιο πόλεμο,τα γεγονότα της εξορίας κ του Πολυτεχνείου μέχρι και το 1978 με τον μεγάλο σεισμο της πόλης μας!Εντονα συναισθηματα κατέκλυσαν τη ψυχή μου με θλιψη,πόνο,χαρα,συγκίνηση!Αξίζει να διαβαστεί από όλους!
886 reviews
June 22, 2012
Thessaloniki, 1917. As Dimitri Komninos is born, a fire sweeps through the thriving multicultural city, where Christians, Jews and Moslems live side by side. It is the first of many catastrophic events that will change for ever this city, as war, fear and persecution begin to divide its people. Five years later, young Katerina escapes to Greece when her home in Asia Minor is destroyed by the Turkish army. Losing her mother in the chaos, she finds herself on a boat to an unknown destination. From that day the lives of Dimitri and Katerina become entwined, with each other and with the story of the city itself.

Thessaloniki, 2007. A young Anglo-Greek hears the life story of his grandparents for the first time and realises he has a decision to make. For many decades, they have looked after the memories and treasures of people who have been forcibly driven from their beloved city. Should he become their new custodian? Should he stay or should he go?


This made an interesting read from an historical point of view but in terms of characterisation it was poor. I didn't really engage with the characters, I didn't feel the heat or the cold or the fear or the hunger. To me a good novel is that I'm so lost in the plot that I feel that I'm there, this book didn't come near that.

I thorough enjoyed The Island, couldn't get into The Return and wouldn't really recommend The Thread.
March 21, 2012
Λοιπόν, από πού να ξεκινήσω... Χμμμ, πρωτα-πρωτα το βιβλίο το "δανείστικα" από μια φίλη (ευτυχώς!) η οποία λεγόταν επίσης Κατερίνα και το αγόρασε επειδή είχε Κατερίνα ως πρωταγωνίστρια και τη Θεσσαλονίκη ως τόπο διεξαγωγής της ιστορίας (πήγαμε σχολική εκδρομή εκεί --> αναμνήσεις...). Τελωσπάντων, το ομολογώ, το απλό εξώφυλλο και η περιληψη του οπισθόφυλλου μου κίνησαν την προσοχή. (Όχι ότι θα άφηνα ευκαιρο βιβλίο να φύγει μέσα από τα χέρια μου!!) Νόμιζα ότι η ιστορία θα ήταν το λιγότερο πάρα πολύ καλή (τόσος ντόρος είχε γίνει πριν από καιρό για το Νησί). Αλλά απογοητεύτηκα. Αυτό πυ ανακάλυψα στο τέλος του βιβλίου ήταν μια χλιαρή ρομαντική ιστορία, με πολλές λεπτομέρειες για τους πρόσφυγες από Σμύρνη (πάντως ήταν κατατοπιστικό όσον αφορά την Ιστορία Κατεύθυνσής μου), πώς εγκαταστάθηκαν τα πρώτα χρόνια του ξεριζωμού, οι συνθήκες ζωής, κτλ. , την ιστορία της Θεσσαλονίκης εκείνα τα χρόνια μέχρι την Αντίσταση και άλλα πολλά. Το υπόβαρθο ήταν ωραίο: ένα κοριτσάκι, η Κατερίνα, μέσα στο χαμό που γινόταν στη Σμύρνη έχασε τη μαμά και την αδερφή της και ένας στρατιώτης που τη βοήθησε την έβαλε σε ένα πλοίο με διαφορετικό προορισμό από την Αθήνα, όπου κατευθύνοταν η υπόλοιπη οικογένειά της. Αυτό έδωσε το έναυσμα για να πάει στη Θεσσαλονίκη και να βρει τον έρωτα της ζωής της και μπλα μπλα. Η ιστορία έπασχε παντού. Στην αρχή δεν κατάλαβα καν οτι οι δύο πρωταγωνιστές ήταν ερωτευμένοι. Το ότι η ηρωίδα παντρεύτηκε κάποιον άλλο λίγο μετά την Κατοχή μου προκάλεσε άσχημα συναισθήματα. Γιατί έπρεπε να φτάσει σχεδόν το τέλος του βιβλίου για να υπάρξει μία καλή στιγμή ανάμεσα στους δύο ήρωες η οποία δεν μου μετέδωσε κανένα συναίσθημα ρομαντικού έρωτα; Δεν ξέρω, εμένα μου φάνηκε τελείως παγωμένο. Ίσως οι πιο hardcore ρομαντικοί και φαν της συγγραφέως να έχουν άλλη γνώμη. Την γνώμη μου πάντως θα την πω. Τα τρία αστέρια μπήκαν με μεγάλη δυσκολία...
22 reviews
September 21, 2017
This book has expectations to be epic but the sad reality is that it looks like a book written by a tourist who wanted to stage some kind of story in a place she fancied.
The result is a story that has little or no real connection with the place and the time; it could have been staged in Paris during the French revolution or in Moscow during the Bolshevik period. It would have made no difference to the development of the plot.
It is absolutely packed with the tritest stereotypes in literature: the love story between the rich privileged boy (aka the prince), and the poor but beautiful and talented orphan girl(aka Cinderella), the inhumane oppressive father, the gross fat husband, the rapacious wealthy, the good-natured poors, and I could go on for a long time.
The plot develops without leaving any emotional mark, through very unlikely situations (e.g. a mother who NEVER bothers to go and visit her lost daughter, a father who NEVER shows any sign of compassion toward his son, a murder by bad diet, come on) and it is pretty much devoid of soul as, I suppose, the author doesn't have any intimate knowledge of Greece, of his people, of his history or the imagination to make up for it.
Definitely in my list of "Pretentious Books Who Never Stood a Chance"
Profile Image for Anna.
564 reviews104 followers
September 6, 2015
a book about my city? definetely yeah!!!

i totally loved this book!!!! I read it in 2 days (not on holidays) so now i really need a long hour sleep!!!! I had ages to be so completely into a book and living in agony for the characters, even though we knew the end of their story from the beginning.
For someone coming from Thessaloniki and having an interest in its history, i think that this a perfect book!! Victoria Hislop did a great research and she said things as they were, from the point of views of her characters.

As a comment I think that it is sad that an English writer brought the spirit of Thessaloniki so accurate and nostalgic, something a modern greek writer has not achieved (or if so please inform me about them)

July 27, 2017
4+
Roman započinje pričom o velikom požaru koji je pogodio Solun 1917.godine i proteže do sve do današnjice. Kako je taj požar odredio sudbine mnogih porodica, kako hrišćanskih, tako i muslimanskih, tako je i dolazak ll Svjetskog rata pogodio solunske Jevreje. Grad koji je nekada bio zajednica svih vjera, samo je u nekoliko godina to prestao biti, muslimani su protjerani u Tursku, a Jevreji su protjerani u poljske logore početkom ll Svjetskog rata. U vrtlogu tih povijesnih dešavanja pratimo sudbine različih porodica, različitih statusa i vjera.

Nakon Otoka, Povratka i Praskozorja, Hislopica me ni ovaj put nije razočarala. Stvorila je dobru priču spajajući povijesne činjenice i fiktivnu priču o nekoliko porodica. Preporučujem i ovaj roman i svakako njene ostale prevedene :)
Profile Image for Nadia Giannakopoulou.
8 reviews1 follower
July 27, 2016
Oh yes, this woman really LOVES Greece!!!

That was on my mind while reading "The Thread"...Reminded me of my thoughts exactly when many years ago I was devouring "The Island"...

It' s so obvious that Victoria Hislop has done an immense historical research about greek history before writing her books... That's why she can so thoroughly narrate big parts of it as a background of her plots. The action is captivating and easy to follow. Interesting stories well-spread over many decades.

The Thread: history of Thessaloniki, Greeks-Muslims-Jews living together in harmony in this prosperous multicultural city, Minor Asia, Smyrni, persecutions, massacres, refugees, fire of 1917, complete devastation, population exchange, World Wars, German atrocities, famine, Jews' Holocaust, jewish ritual objects lost or hidden, greek national division, communism, resistance, EAM, Thessaloniki earthquake in 1978...
Hislop's heroes are trying to survive - not always with success - through all these difficult times. Their lives get tangled up with each other's history and the author does a really good job in unfolding her characters during such an era.

4 stars instead of 5: because although I really enjoyed and got caught up once again in Hislop's writing and the story (600pages in 4 days), I found a few parts missing...For example how come Katerina and her mother dont feel the URGE to finally get back together even once, or why the relationship of Dimitri and Katerina has to stay silent, unexpressed and lukewarm until the end.
For me, while I found very emotional the Jews storyline and their ending, I 'd prefer that Victoria Hislop would make us feel a little bit more of her characters' sentiments and not so much "tell" us their feelings...

Nevertheless, I strongly recommend "The Thread" and Victoria Hoslop 's writing as I always admire her research, her deep look even on secondary historical events and her details in people's culture/way of life.

Being a Greek, I couldnot but thank her enough for staying persistent and loving my country so much!
Profile Image for Alesa.
Author 5 books98 followers
June 30, 2020
I really enjoyed The Thread, and am giving it five stars -- not because it is a literary treasure, but rather because it does such a good job at historical fiction. I learned so much about the history of Thessalonika and modern Greece in general, and enjoyed myself while reading.

The story follows Katerina from being a Greek refugee child fleeing Turkey, to old age in northern Greece. Her life is intertwined with the widow who "adopts" and raises her, the wealthy Greek woman who lives temporarily in the humble Greek neighborhood in Thessalonika, and Moreno Jewish neighbors. The book includes some wonderful plotting at the end, where loose ends miraculously get tied up and a prologue/epilogue set up provides a cool set of bookends to the plot. There's even a (pretty predictable) romance to spice things up a bit.

I hadn't realized that there was such an enormous flow of Greeks and Turks after WWI, forcibly ejected from places they had spent previous centuries living in peace. The author did a great job portraying the harmony of mixed-ethnicity (Greek, Jewish, Muslim) neighborhoods in Greece before the war. I learned a lot about the turmoil Greece faced both during WWII and afterwards, with collaborationists helping the Nazis, and Communists fighting for control. Visiting Greece in the '80s and afterwards, one would have no idea that the country had survived so much recent violence and turbulence.

Why is the book not "literary?" Well, there's way too much of "tell" rather than "show". Some paragraphs use the same adjective twice. However, this is all forgivable because the author attempted to describe such a grand swath of history, and did such remarkable research.

I suppose that one could quibble over this book not being #ownvoices, namely that we have a British woman writing from the viewpoint of a Greek woman. This didn't bother me a bit, however, because I was grateful to be learning so much about Greece, in such an enjoyable manner.
Profile Image for Ivona Poyntz.
22 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2012
A sprawling epic spanning both world wars, the Thread works better as historical reference than fiction: the characters are still born, rendered lifeless and unengaging, with the true centre piece being Thessaloniki, a vibrant city full of colour and pizzaz which subtly evolves throughout the 20 century.

The plethora of characters: Dimitri, Olga, Eugenia, Leonides and Katerina seem to share equal air time and thus we have no 'mains' here. Regretably, this serves to reduce the whole ensemble to secondary, supporting characters with a bland two dimensional scope.

This is often a problem when too many personages jump the mis en scene: one doesn't know where to look:with all the action going on the plot thins out to a superficial layer rendered in pithy monotone.

Profile Image for Filitsa.
12 reviews3 followers
April 12, 2012
I read Hislop's latest around X-mas, in the quiet of the night. Very promising at first, but the novel is so plot-driven it is infuriating. No character development, many inconsistencies in the plot, some bad Greek (she should have asked her Greek friends to proofread). I kept reading because the main part of the plot happens during World War II in Thessaloniki, my home town, and that was such a dramatic time for the city. To be fair her descriptions are good and memorable. But the book could have been so much better.
Profile Image for Carla.
150 reviews19 followers
August 13, 2016
Este terceiro livro que li de Victoria Hislop, a seguir aos livros da mesma autora,"A Ilha" e "O Regresso", fez-me "mergulhar" na história de Tessalonica e também da Grécia no decurso do século XX, entre 1917 (ano em que um incêndio destrói grande parte daquela cidade) e o terramoto do dia 20 de junho de 1978, que também afetou a mesma cidade, com as suas consequências devastadoras.

E durante aquele período, essa cidade e os seus habitantes passam por acontecimentos que os vão transformar, e que, apesar de serem muitos deles violentos e traumáticos, não conseguem destruir a alegria e vontade de viver que os caraterizam.

Assim, uma cidade onde conviviam pacificamente cristãos ortodoxos, muçulmanos e judeus, os últimos dos quais tinham fugido da Península Ibérica durante os séculos XV e XVI, viu-se primeiro desalojada dos seus habitantes muçulmanos, após as guerras entre gregos e turcos que ocorreram na sequência do fim do Império Otomano que teve lugar com o final da Primeira Guerra Mundial, e posteriormente, ficou sem os seus habitantes judeus, os quais foram deportados e mortos em campos de concentração pelos alemães durante o período em que a Grécia sofreu a invasão nazi (Segunda Guerra Mundial).

Mas a cidade de Tessalonica, tal como toda a Grécia, passou ainda por uma guerra civil sangrenta, depois do final da Segunda Guerra Mundial, entre comunistas e partidos de direita, pelo golpe de estado militar em 1967 que veio instaurar uma ditadura, a qual baniu os direitos, liberdades e garantias, e que foi derrubada em 1973, com a restauração da democracia.

É neste cenário histórico, tão bem descrito e retratado pela narradora, que assistimos também ao entrelaçar das vidas de personagens de três famílias gregas, tão diferentes entre si, mas que criam laços em comum muito fortes: uma família tradicional e rica de Tessalonica, uma família grega oriunda da Ásia Menor de onde fugiu aquando da guerra entre gregos e turcos, e uma família judia.

Não obstante ter gostado deste livro, achei-o excessivamente longo, e penso que a história tornou-se um pouco enfadonha pela circunstância da autora, ao querer tanto descrever a vida profissional das personagens e as atividades económicas da cidade, ter passado páginas e páginas a escrever sobre a confecção de roupas, a qualidade dos tecidos e o tipo de pontos e de bordados que uma costureira talentosa poderia fazer. Mas acabou, quanto a mim, por se ter excedido e por ter tornado o livro algo monótono em alguns capítulos.
Profile Image for David Canford.
Author 16 books24 followers
May 15, 2022
This novel is set in Thessaloniki in northern Greece and covers the twentieth century from the First World War, through the expulsion of its Muslim population and the arrival of Greeks expelled from Turkey, the Nazi occupation and removal of the city’s Jewish population, the Greek civil war and its military dictatorship. It is the second Victoria Hislop novel I have read and I enjoyed it more than 'the Island’.
If you enjoy novels that also give you a potted history and immerse you in local culture you’ll probably enjoy this one. I did find it odd that the prologue reveals who the main character will end up with.
For a novel about the expulsion of Greeks from Turkey, in my opinion Louis de Berniere’s ‘Bird without wings’ is more compelling, and for one about the Greek Civil War, ‘Eleni’ by Nicholas Gage.
Profile Image for Sandra Nedopričljivica.
660 reviews66 followers
September 4, 2019
Drugačija od Otoka ali opet ona priča u priči, što volim. Topla povijesna priča o ljudima koji su uspjeli preživjeti nacistički teror.
Profile Image for Πάνος Τουρλής.
2,110 reviews151 followers
July 18, 2014
Υπέροχη, αξεπέραστη Χίσλοπ! Ένας "ξένος" άνθρωπος πώς καταφέρνει να κάνει δικό του ένα ελληνικό θέμα και να το περιγράψει λες και το ζει; Τα συναισθήματα των προσφύγων της Μικρασίας, οι εικόνες της καταστροφής του 1922 και φυσικά η μεγάλη πυρκαγιά του 1917 (και όχι μόνο) είναι τόσο καλά μελετημένα και ψαγμένα που δίνονται με έναν αληθινό και τρισδιάστατο τρόπο. Μπράβο στη συγγραφέα που πιάνει ελληνικά θέματα και τα συνθέτει με τη δική της αριστοτεχνική πένα. Η Χίσλοπ μας παρουσιάζει τους ήρωές τους, τους εξελίσσει και τους ανελλίσει, μας τους περιγράφει και συμπάσχει, ακολουθεί και παρίσταται, κλαίει και θλίβεται, γελάει και απολαμβάνει.

Το βιβλίο αφορά τον έρωτα του Δημήτρη και της Κατερίνας. Αυτός γιος πλούσιο έμπορα κι αυτή προσφυγοπούλα από τη Σμύρνη και φημισμένη κεντήστρα. Η ιστορία ξεκινάει από την οικογένεια Κομνηνού: ο Κωνσταντίνος είναι πλούσιος υφασματέμπορος, με μεγάλη και σημαντική περιουσία, αυστηρός απέναντι στη γυναίκα του, προσκυνάει το χρήμα, δε σταματά μπροστά σε τίποτα για να αβγατίσει την περιουσία του. Η πυρκαγιά της πόλης καταστρέφει το αρχοντικό τους και η Όλγα καταφεύγει στο πατρικό της στην Άνω Πόλη ώσπου να ξαναχτιστεί το σπίτι. Εκεί, στο σπίτι της οδού Ειρήνης, η Όλγα και ο γιος της συναναστρέφονται μεταξύ άλλων μια επιφανή οικογένεια Εβραίων ραφτών, τους Μορένο, που με την απαράμιλλη τέχνη και την τεχνική τους γίνονται ανάρπαστοι στα αριστοκρατικά και όχι μόνο σαλόνια της Θεσσαλονίκης.

Η Κατερίνα χάνει τη μητέρα της στην τραγική καταστροφή της Σμύρνης και το πλοίο που την περισυλλέγει την αποβιβάζει στη Θεσσαλονίκη. Η κυρα-Ευγενία, που επιβιβάστηκε στο ίδιο καράβι με τις δίδυμες κόρες της, Σοφία και Μαρία, την περιθάλπουν και τη φροντίζουν. Η Επιτροπή Αποκατάστασης Προσφύγων τους βρίσκουν ένα σπίτι στην οδό Ειρήνης κι έτσι σιγά σιγά πλέκεται το νήμα που ενώνει τις ζωές των ηρώων μας.

Δεν έχουμε όμως μια επίπεδη, ανούσια αφήγηση: ο έρωτας που ανθίζει ανάμεσα στον Δημήτρη και την Κατερίνα είναι όλο εμπόδια, μιας και ο επαναστάτης Δημήτρης, ακολουθώντας το ρεύμα των γεγονότων συντάσσεται με τους κομμουνιστές και ζει εξορίες, κυνηγητό, κρυφτό, πολλά. Η Κατερίνα πιάνει δουλειά στους Μορένο κι έτσι σιγά σιγά αποκτά τη φήμη της κεντήστρας που ανέφερα ανωτέρω. Η απουσία του Δημήτρη οδηγεί την ανασφαλή Κατερίνα σε λάθος επιλογές, όμως η καρδιά της είναι για πάντα δοσμένη σε έναν και μοναδικό άντρα. Χρόνια αργότερα, στο σήμερα, η Κατερίνα και ο Δημήτρης αφηγούνται την ιστορία τους στο εγγόνι τους και του δείχνουν τη Θεσσαλονίκη με τα δικά τους μάτια.

Καλογραμμένο, μεστό, ρέον, γρήγορο, ανθρώπινο, ανατρεπτικό, δεν πρόκειται να το αφήσετε από τα χέρια σας. Δεν είναι άλλη μια ιστορία αγάπης με τα εμπόδια και τους αγώνες ως το ευτυχισμένο τέλος αλλά η αναλυτική και λεπτομερής ιστορία της Θεσσαλονίκης από την πυρκαγιά του 1917 έως τον σεισμό του 1978 μέσα από τα μάτια ενός σύγχρονου Ρωμαίου και μιας σύγχρονης Ιουλιέτας. Κι εδώ έχω μια μικρή αντίρρηση: η ιστορία θα μπορούσε να τελειώσει με το ευτυχισμένο τέλος του κεφαλαίου 23 και όχι να τραβήξει εις μάκρος μέχρι τη δικτατορία, όπου ο Δημήτρης ξανατραβά του λιναριού τα πάθη λόγω συμμετοχής παλαιότερα στον ΕΛΑΣ, και ως το σεισμό του 1978 που φέρνει μεγάλες ανατροπές στις ζωές των ηρώων.

Η συγγραφέας διάλεξε σωστούς χαρακτήρες για να πλάσει το έργο της, ανθρώπους που μεγάλωσαν και εξελίχθηκαν καθώς προχωράει η ανάγνωση. Ο Κωνσταντίνος Κομνηνός από παραδόπιστος έμπορος γίνεται δοσίλογος στην Κατοχή και τη βγάζει λάδι μετά την απελευθέρωση και τη λήξη του Εμφυλίου. Ο Δημήτρης, που δεν ασπάζεται τα πιστεύω του κομμουνισμού αλλά βρίσκει εκεί διέξοδο για να παλέψει για την πατρίδα του, δεινοπαθεί και μαρτυρεί στα χέρια του επίσημου κράτους που καταδιώκει απηνώς τους κομμουνιστές. Η οικογένεια Μορένο με συγκίνησε με το τέλος που τους έτυχε, αντίστοιχο με όλου του εβραϊκού πληθυσμού: η Κατοχή ξεκλήρισε τον εβραϊκό πληθυσμό της συμπρωτεύουσας. Πολύ ωραίες οι περιγραφές κάτω από την μπότα του τυρράνου και ο τρόπος που έσωσαν οι εβραϊκές αρχές πολύτιμα κειμήλια των συναγωγών τους από τα αδηφάγα χέρια των Γερμανών. Και στενοχωρέθηκα πάρα πολύ όταν διαπίστωσα από τόσο κοντά πόσα πολύτιμα έγγραφα και αρχεία καταστράφηκαν και χάθηκαν για πάντα εκείνο το μαύρο 1917. Και παράλληλα με τους βασικούς ήρωες έχουμε ένα πολύβουο μελίσσι δευτερευόντων (;) ηρώων που σχηματίζουν ένα όμορφο, καλογραμμένο και ολοκληρωμένο κείμενο.

Αν αγαπήσατε τη Βικτώρια Χίσλοπ, Το Νήμα δε θα σας απογοητεύσει. Αν δεν την έχετε γνωρίσει Το Νήμα είναι μια πολύ καλή αρχή. Το χρυσό νήμα της μοίρας δένει ανθρώπους, καταστάσεις, γεγονότα, εποχές πάνω στο κέντημα της ελληνικής (και όχι μόνο) Ιστορίας.
238 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2018
Really enjoyed this - makes me want to visit Thessaloniki. No idea of the recent history of Greece.
Profile Image for Val Penny.
Author 13 books96 followers
April 30, 2015
I have been suffering from breast cancer and am unable to enjoy many of my usual hobbies, so I have been reading even more than usual. With that in mind, my friend Jill gave me The Thread by Victoria Hislop. She had really enjoyed it and so passed it on. I had never read any books by Hislop, but I had heard of her. She is an English author who was born in London, England in 1959 but was raised in Tonbridge, Kent, and attended Tonbridge Grammar School before she read English at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University, Oxford, England. It was while at University in Oxford that she met her husband, the comedian and journalist Ian Hislop. He read English Literature at Magdalen College, Oxford. They married in Oxford on 16 April 1988 and now live in Sissinghurst with their two children.

The Thread is set in Thessaloniki, Greece and follows the slow-burning romance between Katerina and Dimitri, the former a poor refugee from Asia Minor, the latter the son of a wealthy textile merchant. While Katerina supports her family as an expert seamstress, Dimitri angers his father by siding with the resistance against the occupying German forces in World War II, as the city, once devastated by fire, is torn apart by the Nazi persecution of its thriving Jewish community.

Their young grandson hears their life story for the first time when the book begins in 2007. He realises he has a decision to make. For many decades, they have looked after the memories and treasures of the people who were forced to leave. He must decide whether to become their next custodian and make this city his home. So, the reader knows the outcome of the relationship for the two main characters, Katerina and Dimitri, before being taken back to the beginning of their lives. Having knowledge of the ending does not detract from the enjoyment of the narrative because there are enough questions, surprises and anxious moments to keep the reader entranced from beginning to end.

Victoria Hislop’s novel, The Thread, is magical. It is carefully researched and subtly weaves a story of love, family feuds, resilience and loss against a backdrop of the turbulent history of Greece, and, in particular, the northern city of Thessaloniki, throughout the 20th Century. The readers are treated to a tale which not only provides a heart-warming love story, but enlightens and educates them with an accurate, fascinating insight into the history of this region.

This book will excite imagination and encourage travel to Greece and Thessaloniki in particular to experience the spirit of a city nestling in the arms of the ever-present Mount Olympus. However, for me, this book had a similar emotional appeal as A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. In that novel, reviewed at I was able to appreciate how political changes and religious extremes impact on normal, diligent families and their neighbours in Afghanistan: in The Thread similar trials are thrust upon a group of hard-working, tolerant, loving individuals in war-torn Greece. Their specific stories may be fictional but their voices are real and resonant. Victoria Hislop is a gifted writer. The Thread is a delicious book: if you have not yet read it, I highly recommend it. If you have read it, it probably deserves savouring again.
Profile Image for Mafi.
1,096 reviews197 followers
July 19, 2012
Depois de dois anos sem ler nada da autora, eis que me chegou às mãos o 3º livro de Victoria Hislop. Já tinha lido os outros dois livros dela: "A Ilha" e "O Regresso" e gostei bastante de ambos. São histórias bem construídas, com boas personagens e enredos que atraem logo o leitor. Portanto não é de admirar que estava com muita vontade de ler este novo livro.

Em "A Arca" voltamos a viajar até à Grécia, pois é neste país que também se passa a acção de "A Ilha". Depois de no "O Regresso" a autora ter contado a história da Guerra Civil de Espanha, decidiu agora voltar ao país grego.

A autora segue a mesma estrutura a que já nos habituou. O livro começa no presente e regressamos ao passado para contextualizarmos o que acontece no início do livro.

A história centra-se na pequena cidade de Tessalonica e aqui acompanhamos várias vidas, nomeadamente de Katerina e Dimitri, duas das personagens que mais gostei e que são os prostagonistas desta história.

A sinopse é bem esclarecedora. Como disse o livro começa em 2007 e recuamos ao ano de 1917 onde há um grande incêndio que destrói practicamente a cidade de Tessalonica. Katerina com 5 anos vê-se separada pela mãe e criada por uma estranha. Brinca com Dimitri na rua e a relação deles vai evoluindo. Acompanhamos o dom de Katerina para a costura, algo que irá fazer muito feliz e conceituada neste ramo. Dimitri, inteligente segue a medicina. Mas em 1943 a chegada dos generais alemães irá abanar a população, estes polícias chegam com novas medidas, erradicar os 5 mil judeus que ali vivem. Algumas personagens que vamos acompanhando ao longo do livro sofrem com esta medida, a fábrica onde Katerina trabalha é fechada para depois ser novamente aberta com um novo dono.

Todos estes acontecimentos irão separar o casal, apesar de no fim acabar tudo bem.

O livro é muito bom, um bocadinho pesado, para quem não está habituado a leituras destas, mas como já li livros piores nada me chocou. A autora aborda a ocupação alemã, as lutas, os comunistas, temas de grande polémica.

Gostei muito de ler algo sobre o mundo têxtil, acho que foi uma ocupação bem inserida no livro. No fim ficamos a saber como o passado influenciou o futuro e que irá haver sempre histórias que são impossíveis de esquecer.
Profile Image for Flora.
40 reviews7 followers
April 16, 2019
Το διάβασα σχετικά γρήγορα ωστόσο χωρίς να με έχει συνεπάρει. Αντιθέτως θα έλεγα πως από σελίδα σε σελίδα περίμενα να συμβεί κάτι που θα μου δημιουργούσε συγκίνηση και αγωνία. Δυστυχώς αυτό δεν ήρθε ποτέ. Όσο κι αν μου άρεσε σαν ιδέα το γεγονός πως τοποθετεί τους ήρωες της σε αυτό το ιστορικό πλαίσιο και έτσι μας δίνεται η δυνατότητα να δούμε μεγάλα κομμάτια από την ιστορία της Ελλάδας, η πλοκή έξω από αυτά είναι αδιάφορη έως βαρετή.
Η ιστορία αγάπης του Δημήτρη και της Κατερίνας είναι από τις πιο άνοστες που έχω διαβάσει. Για την ακρίβεια δεν καταλαβαίνεις πουθενά πως αυτοί οι δύο είναι ερωτευμένοι. Σε κανένα σημείο δεν ταυτίστηκα με κανέναν από τους ήρωες και πολύ περισσότερο με την Κατερίνα, δεν τους πόνεσα, δεν αγωνιούσα για την τύχη τους. Και το μόνο κομμάτι που με άγγιξε, η σχέση της Κατερίνας με την πραγματική της μητέρα, έμεινε άλυτο ως το τέλος.
Γενικότερα αφήνει την αίσθηση πως διάλεξε μια καπως απλοϊκή ιστορία που θα της έδινε τη δυνατότητα να αναλύσει πιο εύκολα τα ιστορικά γεγονότα που ήθελε. Έτσι η Κατερίνα άγεται και φέρετε στη Θεσσαλονίκη περιμένοντας τον Δημήτρη με τον οποίο ωστόσο τίποτα ερωτικό δεν έχει ούτε συμβεί ούτε κ ειπωθεί και τα υπόλοιπα απλά συμβαίνουν γύρω της.
Profile Image for Ellie Spyridonidi.
104 reviews16 followers
March 22, 2020
Η αλήθεια είναι ότι δεν είχα ακούσει και τα καλύτερα λόγια για το Νήμα και δυστυχώς επιβεβαιώθηκαν. Καθώς είχα διαβάσει τα πάντα από Hislop, το Νήμα ήταν το μόνο αδιάβαστο και έτσι αποφάσισα να το ξεκινήσω.

Η υπόθεση διαδραματίζεται στη Θεσσαλονίκη και ξεκινάει με ένα ζευγάρι ηλικιωμένων που διηγούνται στον εγγονό τους την πολυτάραχη ιστορία της ζωής τους που συνδέεται άρρηκτα με την ιστορία της Θεσσαλονίκης του 20ού αιώνα. Γενικά, σου κρατά το ενδιαφέρον και θες να δεις τι θα επακολουθήσει, αλλά μέχρι εκεί.

Το κυριότερο πρόβλημα είναι ότι καλύπτει μια τεράστια χρονική περίοδο, από τη φωτιά του 1917 μέχρι τον φονικό σεισμό του 1978. Αυτό έχει ως αποτέλεσμα να κουράζει ενίοτε με τις περιγραφές ατελείωτων ιστορικών γεγονότων και άλλες φορές να περνάει εν τάχει πολύ σημαντικά γεγονότα που θα άξιζαν περισσότερη ανάλυση, εφόσον θίγονται. Ένα άλλο προβληματικό σημείο ήταν το πόσο αφύσικα αργά εκδηλώθηκε το διαφαινόμενο ειδύλλιο των δύο πρωταγωνιστών, κάτι που ξέρεις από την αρχή ότι θα συμβεί, αλλά φτάνεις σχεδόν στο τέλος του βιβλίου, για να δεις κάποια εξέλιξη.

Γενικά, πολλά σημεία άφηναν ερωτήματα, που δεν μπορούσα να εξηγήσω. Εν τέλει δεν μπόρεσα να συνδεθώ συναισθηματικά με τους ήρωες και είναι ένα βιβλίο που δεν κατάφερε να με αγγίξει.
9 reviews
January 4, 2013
I loved this book so much, I didn't want it to end.

I'm not sure what the opinion of this book might be from the perspective of a Greek reader and/ or someone who knows Greece/ Thessaloniki well, and I'm not sure if Hislop has actually written a realistic story here that accurately describes the nuances of the city and its people.

However, as I said, I absolutely adored it. It was a bit slow to get going but after a little while I was completely hooked and couldn't put it down.

It was just beautifully written with a wonderful structure. It did also feel like there was a thread running throughout the entire book. At the end, when Katerina and Dmitri were reading Leonidas's letters to Olga and he describes saving a young Katerina, I completely caved in. Oh my god, the emotion that flooded out of me! It was such a satisfying way to round things off and really brought everything together.

I found it so interesting from a historical and political perspective on top of the fact that it is just a beautiful and well executed story.

Kudos to Hislop. This is definitely one of my favourite books of all time.
Profile Image for Peggy.
454 reviews52 followers
August 29, 2018
Just below 3 stars. I previously read two other books by this author which I really enjoyed, but this one disappointed me. I didn't feel very connected to the characters and the book tried to cover too much. But worst of all was that there often was too much telling and too little showing, which made the book at times come across as a history lesson or summation of facts, instead of as enjoyable historical fiction.
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