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ONE AUGUST NIGHT BY VICTORIA HISLOP

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

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REVIEWS

Ray Skarratt

I was pleased to receive this book by Victoria Hislop for my first review of fiction having only reviewed technical books. I enjoyed the ramifications of the story changing between love and tragedy, often in the same person, so much so that my feelings towards the characters switched, throughout the story, between anger, pity, admiration and affection. It is easy to forget that the story is fictional, so real do the characters appear. My only dislike was the use of Greek words, sometimes without translation. A glossary as an appendix would have been useful.

Louise Wolsey

I am usually an ardent fan of V Hislop, so was excited to receive her latest novel. I loved the Island so was looking forward to picking up where it ended. Hoping to learn about the challenges, those cured from leprosy and those families and communities to which they were returning, would face and how they would overcome them or not. Disappointingly there was hardly any mention of the Spinalonga and only a brief mention of the returning individuals/ families with very little reference to what they faced and if / how they integrated back into their communities. The book was an easy read but I found it lacked the substance and gripping reading of her previous novels. The prison scenes were for me perhaps the most vivid of her descriptions. The plot I found to be a fairly predictable love triangle with a not surprising outcome in terms of the legitimacy of Anna’s daughter. If the ending has been left open for a future novel I hope Victoria reverts back to her ‘old’ style... powerful descriptions of the area she is writing about and descriptions of her characters who you feel you know intimately and feel you have some connection with.

G Daniels

Not typically the genre of book I typically read, however the reviews of this and previous books by this author warranted a read. Setting the initial scene and story was very captivating, however after the initial plot, the story fizzled out. I was expecting a twist to this tale and so persevered with reading on. Descriptions of the Greek island and way of life was very well written, but a better end, whether happier or sad would have ensured a better rating from me.

S Cassels

In the beginning …. Agh! Yawn, boring. The two main characters are shallow and not people I want to associate with. Then in chapter 4... Boom! The dynamic changed. This chapter was about that "One Night in August 1957” that changes everything. Well at least to the two families involved. I was all for giving up. It is written in a "he said this” and "she said that” kind of soap opera story. Not my cup of tea. However, I am glad I persevered to Chapter 4, because from then on, the characters had some meaning and became three dimensional. I later discovered that a previous book which I have not read called "The Island” introduces the characters. However, I did not know this beforehand and the first three chapters may be a riveting read for some. The more I progressed with the story the more involved I became. The story is based in Grease on the island of Crete and on the mainland in Piraeus the port town of Athens. The story revolves around the Main Characters of Maria and Manolis who are from different but related families and from Chapter 4 onwards Maria lives in one place and Manolis in the other. The author tells the story by relating events surrounding these two characters. Some events are central to the story and others, as in soap-opera fashion appear to be just to fill them out with no relation to the core of the story. So, if you like finding out trivia about relationships then this will definitely appeal. Another thing I wish I had read beforehand was the Afterword. This is in a section after the story concludes. It tells of how the author came to create the story and base it on real life people and places. The author was enthralled by the small island near Crete called Spinalonga. It was an island where Leprosy sufferers were sent before the cure in August 1957. Yes - do note the month and year. There is also an addendum on real life Leprosy and it is not as Hollywood would portray it, as something apocalyptic with limbs dropping off. These additional chapters were very interesting. Missing from any of the conversations by the characters is any mention of the civil war the backing of the USA to prop up the country against Communism the conflicts with Turkey or disappointingly any mention of how some of these families came to be wealthy. The Author focuses on the minutia of day to day life. If you do not like the bigger macro picture of events then this is the book for you. Finally another ploy of the author is to sprinkle Greek words throughout the text. This I think was unnecessary to the story, however if you do want to pick up some Greek words before a holiday then this is an interesting addition to the story line.

D Nelson

When this book dropped through my letterbox it invoked a mixture of emotions. It is always great to receive an unexpected gift and I do enjoy reading, but was this a book for me? I generally choose non-fiction or well-grounded historical or political novels so the sight of the colourful dust jacket alone was at one time both interesting and challenging. I should not have been concerned. The unfamiliar nature of the writing quickly drew me in. Reading this was like taking a holiday. I was quickly transported to another place. There is an economy of style that quickly paints a bright picture. Characters came to life and although they were sketchily drawn I readily became invested in their troubles and emotions. There is also a real sense of place and of a culture that has a joyous freedom despite the sometimes grim and tragic nature of the plot. Suffice to say that within a very few days I had read and thoroughly enjoyed the whole book. The Afterword also provided a satisfying insight to the issues surrounding leprosy so well woven into the book. In this sense the book was both entertaining and educational. Well worth the time.

D Thomas

I have always loved reading Victoria Hislop’s books. She Loves Greece and it shows. This novel is a sequel to her best seller The Island published in 2005, which I read and enjoyed some 7 years ago. It is not really necessary to have read the earlier book. In August 1957 the island leper colony on Spinalonga closes its doors. The residents, cured, and free to return home. A devastating event of violence tears apart the Petrakis family and taints the joy of the colonies closure for the residents of Plaka. The characters try to rebuild a future despite a traumatic past. I enjoyed the book. I find all Victoria Hislop’s books a pleasurable easy read. But I found the characters we were revisiting to be ‘sketched’ far to lightly. I wanted to have a more in depth insight to how they were coping with such dramatic life events. I just had to wonder, after such a gap, why was the book written; commercial pressure rather than a desire to rekindle our desire to know more about the characters Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas. I felt a little disappointed. However I enjoyed the read. 

S Payne

I am a great fan of Victoria Hislop and have read all of her books, so it was great to receive her latest book from the Book Club. One Night in August is the sequel to her first book, The Island, which was great a great read. We return to the Greek island of Crete and the coastal village of Plaka and immerse ourselves once again in the lives of the villagers. Maria is still on the island of Spinalonga, a Leper Colony just a short distance out to sea from Plaka. Her younger sister Anna is now married to Andreas the son of a wealthy landowner and the sisters father still lives in Plaka rowing people and goods out to the Island. To begin with,we learn more of the life of Anna and her tangled love life, husband Andreas and his cousin Manolis, her lover. Then, one night in August there is a great celebration in the village as the last of the inhabitants of Spinalonga have left the island, now a cure has been found for leprosy so they can all return to their families and old lives. Celebrations are in full swing, when tragedy strikes and everyone's lives are affected by the scandal and changed forever. Maria marries her Doctor from the island and they care for Anna and Andreas daughter, Manolis moves to the Greek mainland and starts a new life. So now, the story line moves between the families as the years pass. Once again we learn about Greek culture and the people and their everyday lives, something Victoria Hislop is excellent at describing and gives you a real feel for. Every time l read one of her books l feel l have enjoyed a very good 'read' and also learn about another country's way of life and customs. The most disappointing thing about the book is that it is only 200 pages long and l read it so quick, l was sad to finish it.