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The Island

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  37,660 ratings  ·  2,670 reviews
On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.

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Paperback, 473 pages
Published April 10th 2006 by Headline (first published 2005)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  37,660 ratings  ·  2,670 reviews


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Tara Verdi
Nov 08, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The story line of this book is pretty good... but it is the most poorly written book I've read in awhile. She explains things - emotions, plot lines - to a level where she's beating you over the head with it and every sentence has about three adjectives too many. You'll want to finish it to find out what happens, but her writing style will drive you nuts while you do.
Dana Ilie
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub
As a novel, The Island has come in for a fair amount of criticism, that I for one strongly disagree with. I loved it! The author captured the warmth, charm and passion of the Cretans and of the Island of Crete, and poignantly described the heartbreaking situation of a time and place that still haunts to this day.


You simply must read this heartrending, brilliantly descriptive and meticulously researched piece of work, whether you are able to visit the island or not. If you do read the book, then
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Fiona
Jun 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: crapbooks
I had great hopes that this would be a good book.

But life can be disappointing at times. This was one of the worst written books I have read in a long time. Chunks of unnecessarty exposition, character motivations eplained to the nth degree, dialogue avoided like...well, like it was leprosy.

If you like your characters spoon fed to you, and every meaningful scene ducked (I mean, why didn't we get to see the last evening she and her husband had together? What exactly did they say?), well, this is
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K
Mar 24, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K by: Ayala
Shelves: bookclub
"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.
...more
Lance Greenfield
Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
The background to this story is so well researched that you feel as if it is a truthful account of events surrounding the lives of those suffering from leprosy in Crete during the Second World War, and their families and friends. There is love and tragedy, betrayal and loyalty, deceit and courage.

Thankfully, both medicinal science and the attitude of society to serious illness have made massive advances since those days.

Once you have started reading this book, you will become captivated, and wil
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Christie
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book.

The primary subject matter of the book was well researched and very interesting and original - that of the fate of Leprosy sufferers in pre-war and wartime Greece. I found this aspect of the book very interesting, the experimental treatments, the descriptions of how they organised their lives on the island and set up a democracy, the emotions surrounding being forcibly taken away from your families and made to live in isolation. I didn't know a lot about le
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Heidi
I have never written a review or reccomendation before & i wont tell the story line because there are many revews here that have already done that, not to mention the blurb. Instead i will tell you why it s one of my all time favourites (another being Birds Without Wings by Louis de Berniere) & why I recommend it to anyone who will listen, even my husband who also loved it! So anyone who might give it a miss thinking its a chick-lit don't! it does have romance but it's much more than that. I cho ...more
Niki Lopez
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was awesome. I read it on my honeymoon, while I was laying on the beach, and I couldn't put it down. I read the whole thing in two days. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in European history. I learned a ton about leprosy and the stigma associated with the disease. I think we all know a bit about leprosy, but it was really enlightening about the overall topic, especially since it is still an epidemic in many third world countries. The female characters were also very int ...more
Tara Chevrestt
I enjoyed this novel so much that halfway thru it I ordered Victoria Hislop's next book. The writing style is fantastic. The descriptions are eloquent without being pompous or overdone. The characters are like everyday people, if a bit exagerated. It starts with Alexis, a young woman trying to get to the bottom of her mother's strange and mysterious past while vacationing in Crete. I would like to note here that it is NOT like the "Forgotten Garden" for those of you that are not fond of time jum ...more
Adrian
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really enjoyable read, albeit out of my usual genres. That said being a real Hellenophile and having a number of Cretan friends, I was always going to enjoy it. I do not know the area described in the book at all well, my friends live nearer Rethymno, but I have flown in over Spinalonga many times and was aware of its history.
The story was woven well into the history of both Crete and the Isle of Spinalonga.
Would recommend to anyone with a love of Greece or Crete, or just looking for a genui
...more
Laura
Apr 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book - partly because the island that the story centers on was the view from our terrace during our honeymoon but also because of the unique topic of the story. It was a quick and enjoyable read though I think was weak in a few ways. As with many novels that combine the past and the present with the past being the focus, the scenes in the present were not as well written and lacked depth and development. I thought Alexis' struggle over her relationship with Ed was totally irrelevan ...more
Asghar Abbas
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it

I always wanted to go to Greece in literature and now I have. Let me tell you, it was worth the trip in this story too.

This book is like getting postcards from all the places you have never been to and now don't want to. For Home is gone and it is now in every one of those places you will never visit.

Highly recommended.
H.E. Wilburson
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Leprosy. You think of is as a biblical or medieval disease but I had not realised that even a control/cure wasn't found until the mid 20th century. This involving story is set on the island Spinalonga off the coast of Crete, between the two world wars, where there was a leper colony until leprosy was eradicated by medical intervention.

The author weaves the fictional story of Cretan family personally affected by leprosy, into the island's leper colony history. It is absorbing and moving and I was
...more
Philip Lane
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
I am afraid I really didn't get along with this book at all. It is fairly easy to read and has some interesting subject matter but I feel it takes a scatter gun approach, putting in a little bit of everything, and failing to hit any target. The book covers 70 years of Cretan history and 4 generations of a family. We get information on leprosy, the way it was treated, medically, socially and officially. Hislop includes a range of incidents that took place on and around Spinalonga, which appear to ...more
Sheila
Beautifully imagined, well-researched and evocatively told, Victoria Hislop’s The Island recreates a leper colony of the 1930s and follows its inmates and neighbors on the Island of Crete through the Second World War to the present day. The theme of searching for identity is well-served as the author follows characters whose identities have been stolen by disease—some losing their physical self-image, others half-destroyed mentally by loss of family and friends. The agony of ostracism, the fear ...more
Robert
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
As readers we all have our comfort zones and historical fiction is definitely not one of my mine, obviously bar a few exceptions. Although I was a bit wary of The Island at first, eventually it did begin to grow on me. Saying that there are flaws but I’ll go into that later.

It’s 2001 and Alexis is visiting Greece, although her main objective is to visit her mother’s birthplace in Plaka. There she meets an old friend who knows Alexis’ family history well tells her the story about her family’s ori
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Cleopatra  Pullen
Alexis Fielding is on the brink of making the biggest decision of her life and almost as a distraction fixates on the mystery of her mother’s life, her childhood that she refused to talk about. All through her childhood Sofia had received letters with Greek stamps on intermittently though Alexis’s childhood but when she is visiting Greece with her long-standing boyfriend she tells her mother that she would visit the place where Sofia had grown up, Plaka and Sofia relented and gave her a letter t ...more
Seamaiden
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have watched the Greek series based on the book so I knew what was going on, but still I loved the book. I agree that there are many long descriptions but I don't think they make the book boring. I think they gave life to the book. I heard many people complaining about the author's language. I read the book in Greek but I don't think the English/original version could be bad. I liked the way Greece was described. It was a realistic portrait of Greece. It is obvious Hislop painted her book with ...more
Laura
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really liked the idea for this book, I found it really interesting, but I found the story poorly written. Set on a Greek Island, the excuse for the main character to go to the former leper colony was contrived, and didn't make much sense to me. Why her mother would have simply cut off contact with everyone she knew I didn't really understand; I didn't engage with any of the characters as I felt they had little substance behind them. They seemed to be very clear cut; one was 'good' and one was ...more
Lyn Elliott
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
'A beach read with a heart' was one of the promo lines on the book's cover. It's true that the author writes about emotions of love and loss, but my emotions certainly weren't engaged by the downs and ups of the story, and it does seems to be more downs than ups. None of her characters truly comes alive, characters are bluntly and repetitively described rather than revealed or heard through their own voices in dialogue.
Her writing style is uninspired. And, as others have noted, we didn't need th
...more
Teresa
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
3.5 stars.

It was ok, and the central story of the leper colony was very interesting. The crime of passion a bit OTT, but I felt that the first and last chapter, involving another generation of the family, was rather pointless.

I may still read The Thread, as I have it in my kindle already, and it is set in the hometown of a good friend.
The Book Review Café
Sep 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Every now and then I do like to mix things up a bit and read something that’s different to my normal crime reads. Victoria Hislop is one of the author’s I turn to I do enjoy historical fiction especially when it’s blended with true events. The Island centres on the clashes between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which came to a head in 1974, resulting in a Greek coup and Turkey invading Cyprus, and Famagusta.

Although I knew little about the civil war I wasn’t aware of the Famagusta, whic
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Sarah
21/1 - I think this book desperately wanted to be a non-fiction history book, but maybe Hislop was unable to find any stories from real residents of Spinalonga so was forced to write it with fictional ones. I was very interested in the story of the inhabitants of the island, the treatments used for leprosy before the cure was found, and what the eventual cure was, but Hislop's writing created a huge distance between me and all of her characters. My experience reading this reminded me of reading ...more
Teddie
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Life inside, and outside, a leper colony...and its aftermath.


This book begins with 25 year old Alexis traveling to a small Greek seaside village where her mother grew up. Sophia, Alexis' mother, has always been very secretive about her past, only sharing that she'd been raised by an aunt and uncle. She left when she was 18, never to return. Alexis is determined to find out where her mother came from and what she has been hiding.

The book then goes back in time more than fifty years, to the small
...more
Masha
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-english
When I first read its reviews, I got a completely wrong impression of this book and was even reluctant to read it, expecting it to be a melodramatic account of a Mediterranean romance. Then a colleague of mine told me she had given it as a reading assignment to her class, so I thought there was more to it than met the eye.

It is not only an intricate family saga of four generations, but also a faithful rendering of life in a rural Cretan community and on the isolated island of Spinalonga from th
...more
Susie
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, historical
I loved every minute of this book. So beautifully written - I just didn't want it to end. It started quite slowly, but I persevered and once I got into it I just couldn't put it down!

The story is about a girl who wants to find out more about her family history, only to discover under the layers of secrecy from her mother a story of betrayal and pain, accented by so much love of those that held it all together and tried to build a life despite the pitfalls.

The description of the places, both hist
...more
Julie Williams
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Island is definitely on my ' best read books ' list. This is a beautifully written story with characters so convincing that I had to keep reminding myself that the book is in fact fiction. The book brought back fond memories of my trip to Crete a few years ago and I regret now not having visited Spinalonga. However if I do go back I will definitely make that boat trip.
Dem
Jul 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Review to follow
Jen - Reviews
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I gave this a four star review because, despite a couple of issues which I'll mention below, the story kept me engaged and reading to find out what would happen.
It's supposed to be about the hidden life of a character - Sophia, however, she doesn't feature much at all and when she does she's a very vacuous, non-developed character, as is her daughter Alexis, who goes in search of her mothers hidden history.
The backdrop is pre and post WW II Crete and the lepor colony on the island of Spinalong
...more
Tina Olson
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Surprised me. It sat on my reading shelf for three years and I kept rejecting it when I needed a new book. Couldn't put it down once I had started it, though. It intrigued me because I have visited D'arcy Island, near Victoria, which was a leper colony for Vancouver Island.
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1,162 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 wo
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