Monday, 23 July 2012

Bookworm: The Thread by Victoria Hislop

This lunchtime I finished reading Victoria Hislop’s The Thread. I’ve devoured this book in just under a week, as with all this writer’s books yet again I could not put it down.

Hislop has a way of writing which keeps you gripped, her descriptions are so detailed and authentic you can easily picture the locations and characters and as you read feel yourself sliding into the story, as if you too were there.

I am a big fan of Greek islands – the people, the weather, the food, the cobbled streets and white and blue buildings – and so I knew I would be transported to Thessaloniki upon reading the book description. As with The Island, I was mesmerised by the traditional Greek characters, the history and the mouthwatering descriptions of the local foods.

Whilst the weather has been awful for most of the time I’ve been blazing through this book, it has been a welcome form of escape to pretend I’m instead sitting in the sun eating a Greek pastry, rather than absorbing the words on a packed train with rain pelting the windows.

Those familiar with the writer will know she also has two other books (on about the Cretan island of Spinalonga and the featuring Spain), this story focusses on Thessaloniki in Greece and how the city changed in the war and how the varied people living there had their lives turned upside down.

The main characters are Katerina and Dimitri and the tale of their lives from children through to adulthood. Throughout many twists and turns we see these characters develop and as is typical with Hislop, the story switches from modern day, back in time and returns to the present.

As a reader you go through a mix of emotions in this fictional tale – there are sad moments, frightening moments, funny times and outright awful events. Even though it is a piece of fiction it all feels so real. The way the writer ties in historical events with fictional tales works so well and I think is a key reason her books always keep you so gripped.

Good points
Strong characters that develop well
Great description which lets you dive into the words on the page and imagine yourself there
Addictive reading, you want to know what happens next

Not so great
Normally Hislop entwines past and present more frequently, but in this book the present is included at the very beginning and then at the end
The end focussing on the present day almost seems a bit rushed/tacked on
The high number of characters can at first leave you a little confused

Overall, yet again I have been impressed by a book by this author and I’d be keen to see what her next offering is. The only downside is now I keep craving Greek food and want to book a holiday to one of the islands!

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