The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.
Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.
In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.
Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.
As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.
This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.
Victoria Hislop. Discover for yourself why 10 million readers worldwide love her books.
This blog tour is sharing 10 minutes a day, read by the wonderful Juliet Stevenson
If that doesn’t lure you into rushing out and buying yourself a copy of the book immedisyely, then I don’t know what will…
Those Who Are Loved is a fascinating and immersive read, describing the lives of a Greek island, during the Nazi occupation and all that unfolded for its occupants – viewed from the perspective of 15 year old Themis. It is a time period that I don’t really know that much about and I love this kind of novel, where I finish it and end up on Google for hours, researching all of the events in the book and looking at maps and photos of the real settings and events that have been portrayed in its pages.
Victoria Hislop’s latest book take place after 1941 where the island and its people have to recognise that their world as they knew it will be changing forever. I loved the character of Themis and I found it easy to connect with her grit and determination as she battles to overcome the many obstacles that she has to endure. Personal beliefs are set against political obligations and it is hard to know who to trust as the whole community is torn apart and neighbour is set against neighbour. If you love a novel that brings history alive and makes its characters feel absolutely like real people, then you’ll love this book. The audio version had me absolutely gripped through Juliet Stevenson’s masterful narration and I flew through an afternoon of painting, transported to Greece and experiencing this awe inspiring historical tale vicariously.
If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I really love a novel where you explore events that have actually happened. I think that is one of the things that I most admire about Victoria Hislop, her novels consistently engage the reader as the characters spring to life off the page. She paints a vivid portrait of their struggles to survive in a dangerous and unpredictable time in history. I hate including spoilers so all I’ll say is that Themis stands out in every way, in a historical period where drawing attention to yourself is a risky proposition and there are several tense moments when your heart will definitely be in your mouth as you wonder exactly how her tale will unfold.
The way that Victoria Hislop brings the horror and anguish that Themis has lived through so vividly to life on the page made me totally lose myself in this fantastic read. I couldn’t tear myself away from her dramatic and memorable life. The fact that I have spent to many summers in Greece lends Those Who Are Loved an added poignancy and made me remember that even though this is a novel, the stories it tells were very much a reality for thousands of Greeks who found themselves trapped in a conflict that they were powerless to do anything about.
If you love a historical read that brings moral dilemmas vividly to life and enjoy being totally immersed in a powerful and vivid narrative then you’ll love this novel. It’s a powerful story and I found myself quite emotional as it drew to a close, knowing as I did that even though Themis was a fictional character, she really lived for me whilst I was lost in the book. I wholeheartedly recommend this stunning audiobook as the balance of historical detail, wonderful characterisation and emotional punch was a winning combination for me.
I would like to thank Emily Patience for inviting me to participate in the blog tour – I absolutely love a god audiobook and I’ll definitely be looking out for the other blog posts to see what my fellow bloggers thought of this emotional and memorable tale.