Thursday, September 02, 2010

24. THE ISLAND - Victoria Hislop

Spanning four generations in a small Greek village, this book is a fascinating look at guilt, secrets, and isolation.

Alexis, while reflecting on her own path in life, decides to visit her secretive mother's friend, and learns that the beautiful island, Spinalonka, in the distance off of Crete was once a leper colony. Anyone who had signs of the disease, including Alexis's great-grandmother, were immediately shipped off to avoid contaminating others.

The Island shows the devastation of leprosy, but Spinalonka became a place of hope. There was decent housing, medical care, and even a bar for the men.

However, most of the details of this novel take place off "the island" in the village. The stories of Alexis's relatives chase away the more interesting story of the island and its characters. At one point, I became irritated because there seemed to be no emotion shown when one character met the boy who gave her mother leprosy. Really? And, how did they feel about relationships or seeing their "home" across the bay?

These issues are oversimplified, which made me not invested in the characters. What kept me reading were the interesting stories about leprosy and the island, which is based on a historical time in Greece.

2.4 out of 5.0 TKOs.