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The Island

Author: Victoria Hislop

Country: United Kingdom

Language: English

Publisher: Headline Review

Publication year: 2005


The Island is a historical novel written by Victoria Hislop. It has won several awards including Newcomer of the Year at the 2007 British Book Awards. The book was also nominated for the Book of the Year award at the same event. This is a richly enchanting novel of lives and loves unfolding against the backdrop of the Mediterranean during World War II. The Island is an enthralling story of dreams and desires, of secrets desperately hidden, and of leprosy’s touch on an unforgettable family.


Travel 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. 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.

– Publishers Weekly

The novel is a romantic page-turner, but a little shallow. For example, the Nazi occupation of Crete becomes a plot device to turn the boy next door into a hunk, and, after much tribulation, the good are rewarded and the bad punished. The novel, successful in Britain, will probably be a popular beach read and book club selection this summer. There’s little to object to in this historical romp.

– Booklist


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