Friday, 29 October 2010

The Island - Victoria Hislop

I've recently started reading 'The Island' by Victoria Hislop; there has been some discussion about this book a few years back, with very positive reviews but for some reason I didn't have the chance to read it (usually I kind of chase such books). After I've found out that the book got its own TV series, I thought I was on to something. And I was! After a lot of effort since the copies at the public library were always on loan (I had vowed that the only chance I'm buying books again is only if it is for reference or if I can't borrow it - this comes from a serial book-buyer), I had the good fortune of borrowing it from a friend, although unfortunately not in the original language it was written.

I haven't finished it yet (although I've read half of it in two days - this being in between lectures and tutorials), but I loved it. I like the way Hislop writes, with detailed descriptions but without being pompous at all. I'm impressed with how well-researched this book is and how did Hislop manage to be so detailed about a reality she did not experience herself, or about a place which is not her home!

Concerning the plot and the three-dimensional characters, I was struck with how successfully they were used to bring out  the hardships of the time: the prejudices against people with Hansen's disease, the poverty, the turmoil of war and the locals' reactions to it. Most importantly, however, emphasis is put on the conventions of the human nature that have not changed one bit through the centuries: death, promiscuousness, jealousy and alienation within the family and of course, weakness. Weakness of the body, weakness of the spirit, weakness to understand, to accept and to forgive.

Concerning the series, I liked it as well, with talented actors and very good direction with attention to detail. However, as it always happens when books turn into TV series or films, the book is beyond comparison. Nevertheless, a very good attempt to bring to life the tragic story of The Island.

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