Annette's Reviews > Those Who Are Loved

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
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it was amazing

Victoria Hislop’s novels are always well researched and concentrate on a particular period in history.
‘Those Who Are Loved’ is about Greek history and covers the time from the 1930s onwards so the reader is transported from WW2 right through the Greek Civil War and the military junta up until the present day.
I knew little about the history of modern Greece so this story truly educated me but it was not like reading a dry history book. The novel actually made me feel as if I was living in those times.
Themis is an old lady at the start of the book, living in Athens in the same flat she has inhabited all her life. She is celebrating her birthday with four generations of her family and she decides to tell her grandchildren American Nikos and Greek Popi her life story.
Themis has had an eventful life growing up when Greece was invaded by the Nazis and then when the country was thrust into a savage Civil War which set neighbour against neighbour.
Themis’ siblings shared different political views. She and her brother Panos decide to fight for the Communists whilst her other brother and sister are far more right wing and cannot understand Themis’ and Panos’s opinions. . This really splits the family and their grandmother Kyria who is bringing them up does all she can to keep the peace as the siblings constantly argue.
One would imagine that this would be common during those times with families taking different sides in the war. Politics plays such a major role in all their lives and affects them deeply, particularly as people begin to die and many are badly injured. Massacres in WW2 are described in detail and the violence continues straight after with the Civil War- a situation which is terrible to contemplate and so ironic as the Nazis are gone but now Greeks are killing their own people.
The author goes into great detail about the Civil War and Themis’ imprisonment and torture afterwards. She also mentions the constant fear she has of being rearrested, even many years later under the right wing military government.
I found this a fascinating read as I knew so little about this subject. However it was more than a history book as Victoria Hislop’s characters truly come alive and make the book a compelling read.
I really liked Themis, the strong female lead who eventually becomes a matriarch, looking after her family, avoiding any mention of her life as a soldier when she was a young woman. She fears her Communist background could come back to haunt her so tells her children nothing of her early life.
In the end it is a relief for her to reveal all to her grandchildren.
Her brother Thanasis, who starts the novel as rather unpleasant , gradually mellows as the book moves along and I ended up empathising with him by the end of the novel.
This is an enjoyable read which also educates. A great read and highly recommended.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 18, 2019 – Shelved

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