Thessaloniki, 1917. As Dimitri Komninos is born, a devastating fire sweeps through the thriving Greek city where Christians, Jews and Muslims live side by side. Five years later, Katerina Sarafoglou's home in Asia Minor is destroyed by the Turkish army. Losing her mother in the chaos, she flees across the sea to an unknown destination in Greece. Soon her life will become entwined with Dimitri's, and with the story of the city itself, as war, fear and persecution begin to divide its people.
Thessaloniki, 2007. A young Anglo-Greek hears his grandparents' life story for the first time and realises he has a decision to make. For many decades, they have looked after the memories and treasures of the people who were forced to leave. Should he become their next custodian and make this city his home?
©2011 Victoria Hislop (P)2011 Headline Digital
The characters in this story grow up, grow old, grow stronger or weaker against the backdrop of Greece. As I am not overly familiar with this nation's history, I was thrilled that Victoria Hislop chose to tell the story in this way.
What I liked: This story is a story about people. People putting on masks, taking them off, loving, hating, adopting, creating families, letting go. Characters make choices, good and bad, based on the information they had and who they were. Hoslop's choice of Greece, with it's political turmoil, was a wise one. The city of Thesalonica became a character of its own.
What I didn't like: There are a few too many contrivances... nothing glaring, but enough to make me stap back, raise my eyebrows and keep going. I also found the character of Constantinos as too driven and diabolical to be believable. Also, occasionally the narrator would put on this over-dramatic school-teacher voice that drove me crazy! Thankfully, this was rare, but something to be aware of.
Something I wish had been done differently: The blurb on this book talks about the grandson of the main characters deciding whether or not to make Greece his home. This took up so little of the book that they should've just left it alone. It deserved more than the epilogue it received, especially since I was expecting a double-storyline as in Hislop's novel "The Return."
Overall, this book was well worth my time and credit.
Historical, romantic, well-told
That it was a historical novel and that it was set in a city I knew nothing about. The city itself almost became a character in the book. I also loved the characters in the book and the descripitions of their relatinships to each other.
I have not listened to any of her other performance's, but I liked her as a narrator in this book.
Katerina, because of her importance in the story. But a lot of the other characters were also good. I especially liked Katerina's foster mother.
"Epic and moving story of love ad war"
This is a wonderful, epic story set in the historically turbulent first half of the 20th century in Greece. It spans the two World Wars with all the sorrows and uncertainty that war causes. The aftermath of which led to displacement of people who had formerly lived in happily inter-mixed racial/religious groups but following political change are moved about in a variant of ethnic cleansing. There is a lot of historical material, that I found interesting and informative, that is the backdrop to the fictional characters who bring the book to life. They seem so real that I couldn't stop listening to find out what happened to them next. It's a truly moving book carried along by the 'thread' of a love-story interrupted by war and political upheaval read by an excellent narrator.
I really enjoyed this story,so well written I couldn't put this down. Finished it in two days. Would definately recommend this book and Victoria Hislop is one of my favourite authors,can't wait for her next book. Only negative comment I have is the pronounciation of some of the Greek names and places were not too authentic but didn't take away the magic of this story. Loved it !!
Set in Thessaloniki in northern Greece this book paints a vivid picture of life for the resident of the city during a very turbulent time in its history.
the people and the location also the historical background
"Made me cry!"
For two reasons:
1) the beginning confused me and when I got to the end I wanted to listen to the start again to make sense of it all
2) it was a good book
Very few books make me cry, this one did. It took some time to get into it, but once I got into it I couldn't put it down.
"Fantastic Holiday read"
feelgood history lesson
The characters are so real, you forget you are reading fiction
she is perfect in the way she brings the story alife
This is a wonderful family saga that brings to life Greec's trubulant history. I have learned lots of new things about Greece as well as being entertained by a very skilled story teller.
One of the best books I have listened to. Beautifully written and it transports the listener into the lives of the characters.
"Well written but very very negative."
I did this book was very well written. I realise a lot was based on history which was very useful as I learnt a lot. I realise that historically the most awful series of events happened historically however The issue I have is that if pretty much anything could go wrong in the characters lives it did, it became predictable in the end. I felt fed up in the end listening to it. There were lots of occasions I could mention but I don't want to ruin it for others. I just found it very depressing, I really wish just sometimes something good could have happened to one of them.
That being said I think this lady narrator is fantastic, I have listened to her before. Her voices were excellent. I would recommend her thoroughly.
I really wish I could give it all five stars as the storyline was good, but as I say I found it very very negative.,
"I Loved it"
Another superb book by Victoria Hislop in which one not only becomes deeply involved with the characters but learns so much history. I love her books but my favourite is The Island.
"A thoroughly enjoyable listen"
This book gave me a very thought provoking history of 20th century Thessalonica, with its traumas,natural and political, while involving me in a very moving story of a refugee family. It was carefully researched and well written. I did however find the poor pronunciatian of Greek names and places very irritating.
"Gripping historical story"
Victoria Hislop must spend a lot of time researching her background even before she starts writing. She has a wonderful way of getting across the background of an area without boring. I loved this book; as an embroiderer myself I was able to relate to Katarina and her life and was mesmerised by the swap over of Greeks and Turks and then the removal of Jews from Greece. I had no idea Thessaloniki had such a tragic history. Very highly recommended.
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