Books

The Thread

The Thread

The Thread by Victoria Hislop, Headline, $29.99.

There’s a lot of history in The Thread, but Victoria Hislop’s lightness of touch and warm lyrical style make it a lesson you genuinely relish.

This is the author’s third novel set in Greece and here, in the multicultural city of Thessaloniki, she delves much deeper into the fabric of this nation, examining the relatively recent and painful past that has informed the last few generations.

“Thessaloniki is an amazing place — you can feel the history even in the streets. It was the striking mixture of architecture — grand 19th century French mansions, 3rd century Roman buildings, including a very, very early church, and old Turkish ‘cottages’ — that first made me ask questions and want to find out more,” Victoria tells The Weekly.

“When the novel begins, the population was made up approximately of one-third Muslims, one-third Greek Orthodox and one-third Jewish. These three sectors of population lived together harmoniously, but everything suddenly changed in the space of only two decades. My story begins in 1917 when all three elements were there and two decades later, only the Greek Orthodox remained.

“How and why that happened and the relationships caught up in a world of Nazi occupation and religious prejudice are the building blocks of the novel’s traumatic tale of devastation and survival, which is also a deeply felt love story.

“It was inspirational material and very sad, too, and the novel describes how people survived all the traumas of change,” explains Victoria, who developed a complex plot with multiple threads. Hence the title, which also refers to pieces of embroidery crucial to the structure.

Yet the real power of this work lies in the intense and sensitively drawn relationships between the generations — grandparent and grandchild — and childhood friends torn apart by their backgrounds.

Mix in pervasive descriptions of Greece so vivid you can almost smell the Mediterranean aromas and it’s impossible not to lose yourself in Hislop’s tempestuous world.

About the author: Victoria Hislop

Raised in England, this 52-year-old mother of two started writing novels after the birth of her first child, a daughter.

“I used to write while she was sleeping.” The Thread is her third novel.

The first, The Island, sold more than two million copies and was made into a TV series in Greece.

Victoria is married to Ian Hislop, editor of UK satirical magazine Private Eye, who she says isn’t allowed to read her books until the final draft.

“He is always truthful. He told me with The Thread that I had rushed the end. So I went back and made it much better. He was right, so I was very grateful!”

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