Seeping in rich historic detail, Victoria Hislop’s new novel Those Who Are Loved is a vivid and passionate portrayal of Greece’s painful and turbulent history.
Told through the point of view of Themis, a young woman whose family is divided by politics, this immersive read reels you in. When the Nazis invade and occupy Greece, the political divisions within Themis’s family escalate bitterly. Surrounded by death and destruction as her country is brought to its knees, she is driven to commit acts of resistance. As civil war follows the German occupation, Themis’s own political beliefs grow and she runs away to fight for the Communist army.
During the civil war in which Themis actively plays her part, she is soon stripped of her innocence. She finds love but she also finds that she can commit terrible atrocities. Themis is eventually caught and imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri.
Victoria Hislop’s creation of Themis as a character is sheer genius. Themis is courageous, committed in her fight for justice and so likable. Yet what she does for the Communist cause makes very uncomfortable reading. Through this epic tale and the creation of her central character, Hislop skillfully portrays the complexity of a Greek history that is not really discussed but has left this beautiful country with profound scars. As Victoria Hislop says:
Those Who Are Loved has been germinating for a decade now, from the moment I first saw the island of Makronisos from the Greek mainland. I was told it was uninhabited, but had been a prison camp for communists. The discovery compelled me to read about the Greek civil war (in which many women played a role), but of course it also meant researching the events that led to the conflict as well as the long-term after-effects that are still seen in Greece even today. Everyone knows how much I love Greece, but exploring this story has taken me to some new and disquieting places.
Those Who Are Loved is a very thought-provoking read as I really empathised with Themis , wondering what I myself would do if I was in such political turbulence and life and death situations. However one of the things that really makes this novel so powerful and beautiful is that love, family and friendship overcome war and politics.
I recently featured Those Who Are Loved in my Top Summer Reads You Shouldn’t Miss! blog post simply because it is so brilliant.
Thank you to Victoria Hislop for writing another epic story that vividly brings to life the rich and complex history of Greece. Hislop is by far one of the best ever storytellers.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the Those Who Are Loved blog tour. When I saw Anne’s email I couldn’t believe my ‘book blogging’ luck – that I was being invited to help publicise Victoria Hislop’s new novel! Thank you also to Headline Review for my advance copy – I devoured this book as the story totally consumed me.
To read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers also taking part in the Those Who Are Loved blog tour, please see below.