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We do love a good storyteller and international bestselling writer Victoria Hislop is certainly that. From the days of highly acclaimed The Island, Hislop has captivated with her well-researched, historically based tomes. Those Who Are Loved, her latest offering which is published today, continues this trend.

The frame for the book is an elderly woman recounting a life less ordinary to her family, the backstory a great swathe of Greece’s rich and turbulent modern history – the Second World War during Nazi occupation, the brutal civil war and military dictatorship, as seen through the eyes of protagonist Themis.

In the now, four generations of Themis’ family gather in her home to celebrate her birthday and she realises that while she has no heirlooms as such to leave them, she does have the legacy of her life story. It is with this that she entrusts her grandchildren, Popi and Nikos, weaving the rich tapestry of their past.

Separated from their parents and brought up by their grandmother, Themis and her siblings grow up in challenging times and become bitterly divided on political grounds as they react to life under the Nazis very differently. Themis and her brother, Panos, end up fighting for the Communists in the civil war that follows, which pits Greek against Greek, while her other siblings have more right-wing leanings. When Themis is imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, her life changes radically.

As with Hislop’s earlier books, Those Who Are Loved is a beautifully realised piece of history delivered in an engaging, extremely readable package. The detail in this book is astonishing, enabling the reader to visualise clearly Themis’ hinterland. We’re simply immersed in her world.

This is a very accomplished book, allowing insight into an important yet surprisingly often overlooked period of history. A must read.

 

Those Who Are Loved | Victoria Hislop | Headline Review | 30 May 2019 | hardback   £20.00 | available in ebook and audio

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Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the Random Things Tour virtual book tour. Please check out the other participants. Many thanks to Anne Cater and also to the publisher for sending us a book proof. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.

 

Also of interest:Sarah Hilary’s Never Be Broken, a study in loss‘; ‘Permission by Saskia Vogel’; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’; ‘The Killer You Know, SR Masters’ friendship noir’; ‘The Way of All Flesh’; ‘Call Me Star Girl’;Falling from the Floating World’; ‘Blood Orange’; Beton Rouge’;The Lost Man‘; ‘Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdad’s Sing’; ‘The Story Keeper, Anna Mazzola’s Gothic novel‘; ‘Midland‘; ‘A Greater God‘; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘We should all be feminists’; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select Q&As/interviews: ‘Meet Paul E. Hardisty’;‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir’; ‘Tom Cox’; ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Gunnar Staalesen’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist‘; Gina Kirkham;John Fairfax’; ‘Ian Ridley’; ‘David Stuart Davies’.

 

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.

 

 

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