I’m beyond excited to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for the incredible Those Who Are Loved by one of my favourite authors, the fantastic Victoria Hislop. Thank you to Anne Cater and Headline for giving me the opportunity to read and review this beautiful and moving book.
About the book:
The captivating new novel from the multi-million- copy bestselling author of The Island, The Sunrise, and Cartes Postales from Greece, Victoria Hislop.
Those Who Are Loved is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece in World War II, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.
Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade. Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.
In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.
Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live. As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.
This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.
Victoria Hislop said:
‘Those Who Are Loved has been germinating for a decade now, from the moment I first saw the island of Makronisos from the Greek mainland. I was told it was uninhabited, but had been a prison camp for communists. The discovery compelled me to read about the Greek civil war (in which many women played a role), but of course it also meant researching the events that led to that conflict as well as the long-term after-effects that are still seen in Greece even today. Everyone knows how much I love Greece, but exploring this story has taken me to some new and disquieting places.’
About the author:
Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island in 2005. It became an international bestseller and a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra. The Island has sold over 1.2million copies in the UK and more than 5 million worldwide.
Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, which inspired her second bestseller The Return, and she returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki in The Thread, shortlisted for a British Book Award and confirming her reputation as an inspirational storyteller. It was followed by her much-admired Greece-set short story collection, The Last Dance and Other Stories. The Sunrise, a Sunday Times Number One bestseller about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, was published
to widespread acclaim in 2014. Victoria’s most recent book, Cartes Postales from Greece was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and one of the Top Ten biggest selling paperbacks of 2017. Her novels have sold 10 million copies worldwide.
I’ve been a huge admirer of Victoria Hislop’s writing since I first read The Island and fell in love with her beautifully descriptive writing style and her passion for the country of Greece. I’ve read all but one of her books (I still have her last one to read) and have loved them all. So when I was offered the chance to take part in the blog tour for her latest book I jumped at the chance! I still can’t quite believe I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this book and feel incredibly privileged to have been fortunate enough to do so.
Those Who Are Loved is the meticulously researched and harrowing story of one woman’s struggle to survive in war torn Greece. The novel opens in 2016 Athens as nonagenarian Themis is celebrating her birthday with her family. As memories of the past come to the forefront of her mind, she sits down with two of her grandchildren and begins to tell them the story of her life.
The story then moves to the Athens of 1930 and a four year old Themis who is living with her mother, a mostly absent father and three older siblings, in a crumbling old house that belonged to her mother. But then disaster strikes and Themis and her siblings find themselves living with their grandmother and growing up in an increasingly uncertain world. Her spiteful sister, Margarita, never misses an opportunity to be mean to her, while her brothers Panos and Thanasis, who couldn’t be more different if they tried, are constantly at loggerheads over their opposing political beliefs.
With war fast approaching Themis enjoys a simple life. She attends school and enjoys the companionship of her best friend Fotini, a girl her anti-communist brother Thanasis disapproves of. The hardship of war descends upon them, dividing family and country even more than they already were. And even once the war is over, the civil unrest continues and Themis makes the decision to join the Communist army, leading her to an even more uncertain future as she experiences love and hatred in its extremes amidst a war in which the people of Greece are fighting each other.
Victoria Hislop’s beautiful writing weaves an incredibly powerful and intricately detailed story that brings both Greek history and an emotionally charged fictional tale seamlessly together. The beautiful and conflicted country of Greece is brought vividly to life, showing just how resilient the human spirit can be in overcoming adversity even when all the odds are stacked so completely against it.
Those Who Are Loved is a story of one family and how different beliefs can tear it apart. It is the story of one woman’s courage and her struggle to survive in a harsh and unrelenting world. It’s a book that’s steeped in a Greek history that I knew very little about, breathing life into the people of that time so that I felt everything right along with them. I could feel the gnawing of their hungry bellies and the anguish of their losses, but I could also share in those infrequent little moments of joy that somehow kept them going throughout those devastatingly difficult years.
Victoria Hislop is a born storyteller and her love and passion for Greece comes through loud and clear with every word she writes. Her attention to detail is second to none, even down to the inclusion of real life people and events such as resistance leader Lela Karagiannis, whose important contribution to the war effort is included in this book.
A beautiful, moving and at times harrowing story that I highly recommend. A stunning read that will stay with me for some time to come.
Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop is available to buy now: Amazon UK
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