T ravel writer Hislop's unwieldy debut novel opens with 25-year-old Alexis leaving Britain for Crete, her mother Sofia's homeland, hoping to ferret out th"/>
 

The Island

Victoria Hislop, Author
Victoria Hislop, Author . Harper $14.95 (474p) ISBN 978-0-06-134032-1
Reviewed on: 05/07/2007
Release date: 07/01/2007
Hardcover - 473 pages - 978-0-7553-2964-9
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T ravel writer Hislop's unwieldy debut novel opens with 25-year-old Alexis leaving Britain for Crete, her mother Sofia's homeland, hoping to ferret out the secrets of Sofia's past and thereby get a handle on her own turbulent life. Sofia's friend Fortini tells Alexis of her grandmother Anna, and great-aunt Maria. Their mother (Alexis's great-grandmother) contracted leprosy in 1939 and went off to a leper colony on the nearby island of Spinalonga, leaving them with their father. Anna snags a wealthy husband, Andreas, but smolders for his renegade cousin, Manoli. When philanderer Manoli chooses Maria, Anna is furious. Conveniently, Maria also contracts leprosy and is exiled, allowing Anna to conduct an affair with Manoli. Meanwhile, Maria feels an attraction to her doctor, who may have similar feelings. Though the plot is satisfyingly twisty, the characters play one note apiece (Anna is prone to dramatic outrages, Maria is humble and kind, and their love interests are jealous and aggressive). Hislop's portrayal of leprosy—those afflicted and the evolving treatment—during the 1940s and 1950s is convincing, but readers may find the narrative's preoccupation with chronicling the minutiae of daily life tedious. (July)

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