Maria’s Island by Victoria Hislop – Book Review

Maria’s Island by Victoria Hislop – Book Review

Marias Island by Victoria Hislop

Maria’s Island

Author – Victoria Hislop
Illustrator – Gill Smith
Publisher – Walker Books
Pages – 128
Released – 3rd June 2021
ISBN-13 – 978-1406399073
Format – ebook, hardcover
Rating – 5 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
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The absorbing story of the Cretan village of Plaka and the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony – is told to us by Maria Petrakis, one of the children in the original version of The Island.

She tells us of the ancient and misunderstood disease of leprosy, exploring the themes of stigma, shame and the treatment of those who are different, which are as relevant for children as adults.

Gill Smith’s rich, full-colour illustrations will transport the reader to the timeless and beautiful Greek landscape and Mediterranean seascape.

Review by Stacey

Maria’s Island is a beautiful, engaging, and poignant book set on the Greek Island of Crete and the now uninhabited neighbouring island, Spinalonga.

The story features a young girl called Rita who is visiting her γιαγιά (Grandmother) called Maria who lives in Crete. Her Grandmother tells her about the place she grew up in and offers to take Rita there one afternoon. When they arrive in the small village of Plaka Maria tells Rita all about her life living there and on the island of Spinalonga.

Maria shares with Rita the story of how a bacteria illness called Leprosy had such a devastating effect on the community. How it tore families apart and how because it was contagious the Greek government decided that anyone who had the illness, whether they were an adult or a child had to move to Spinalonga to live out their years.

This is a tale that will stay with me for a long time. It was extremely touching and opened my eyes to an illness that has been around for generations and that only through modern medicine can people be treated and cured of it. I’d also never heard of Spinalonga, if you get the chance Google it and see the buildings that still stand today where people had to live and die.

The storyline is heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time, but it is so worth the read. You could feel all the raw emotions that Maria and those around her felt.

There are vivid elegant illustrations throughout that capture the heart of the story and the life of the people in Crete and Spinalonga. I can’t emphasise enough how absorbing and powerful this book is. I haven’t read Victoria Hislop’s adult book The Island, but I will be ordering a copy today as this book was inspired by The Island and retold for children.

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Author Info

Victoria Hislop marias island

Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island in 2005. It became an international bestseller and a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra. The Island has sold over 1.2million copies in the UK and more than 5 million worldwide.

Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, which inspired her second bestseller The Return, and she returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki in The Thread, shortlisted for a British Book Award and confirming her reputation as an inspirational storyteller. It was followed by her much-admired Greece-set short story collection, The Last Dance and Other Stories.

The Sunrise, a Sunday Times Number One bestseller about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, was published to widespread acclaim in 2014. Victoria’s book, Cartes Postales from Greece was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and one of the Top Ten biggest selling paperbacks of 2017. Her novels have sold 10 million copies worldwide.

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6 Responses

  1. DJ Sakata says:

    I have never made it to Greece, it remains on my bucket list

  2. Ooh, I really want to read Maria’s Island! This sounds so good.

  3. Robin Loves Reading says:

    Maria’s Island sounds like a lovely read. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you DJ, I have only been to one of the Greek islands, not the mainland. I hope you get there one day.

  5. Thank you Kate, it is an amazing book. I hope you get to read it.

  6. Thank you Robin. Good to hear that you like the sound of the book.