The Island by Victoria Hislop

The first novel from the pen of Victoria Hislop is set on the island of Crete, and revolves around the treatment of patients with the ‘world’s oldest disease’: leprosy. island HislopLike her succeeding novel, The Return, the story begins in the UK with a British protagonist, who begins to learn a few things about her family’s past. In the case of Alexis, her family’s past takes her to the island of Crete, where she meets people from her mother’s family and community, and their links with the tiny off-shore island of Spinalonga, a kind of fortress community for segregating people suffering from leprosy.



The narrative is full of intrigue, it ambles along at a gentle pace, but captures the reader’s interest when he/she realizes that much of the content is based on fact. This is not a Dan Brownesque page-turner that will keep you ‘on heat’ until you’ve hit the last chapter, but the very human tale of the trials and tribulations suffered by a community during World War II, coping with the distress of a leprosy colony just off its shore, will hold your attention.

Victoria Hislop with Manoli, a character in her novel

Victoria Hislop with Manoli, a character in her novel

Hislop is an accomplished story-teller. I would recommend you read both The Island and The Return.


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on June 22, 2013, in Book reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. One of my favourite books! I read it whilst on Crete

  2. Good Day Frank,
    Both my daughter, Penny, who is one of your former Spanish students (O.K1985), and I enjoyed all of Victoria Hislop’s books . Have you read ” The Thread” which was concerned with families living in Thessalonica during the fall of the Ottoman empire when massive movements of people occurred between Turkey and Greece.I certainly enjoyed it as much as the two mentioned in your posting.

  3. many thanks for your Victoria Hislop blog. I am just launching into The Thread set in Thessaloniki where I spent six months in 1961. I also had three marvellous weeks staying in an orphanage in Crete. Shalom Tony Hodgson

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