When I heard that Victoria Hislop was about to release a sequel to her bestselling The Island – one of my all-time favourite books, and I really treasure the signed limited edition hardback copy I collected at the party celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2015 – I couldn’t have been much more excited. And I was so thrilled when an early hardback copy of One August Night – due for publication on 29th October in hardback, audiobook and for kindle, with the paperback to follow in July 2021 – dropped through my letterbox (thank you to everyone at Headline!). But then I could have cried when I realised that there was no way I could fit in the reading until my Christmas break…
Beloved author Victoria Hislop returns to Crete in this long-anticipated sequel to her multi-million-copy Number One bestseller, The Island.
25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.
When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy.
In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.
Number one bestselling author Victoria Hislop returns to the world and characters she created in The Island – the award-winning novel that remains one of the biggest selling reading group novels of the century. It is finally time to be reunited with Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the island… and beyond.
I knew immediately who I could ask to read the book and write an early review. Julie Ryan was my guest on Being Anne in April 2016 – you’ll find the article here – and she’s stepped in before (actually, she nearly grabbed my hand off!) to write a review of Cartes Postales from Greece (you can read it again here). She’s the author of the Greek Island mysteries (you’ll find her author page here), loves Greece with a passion, and even has a “Greek shelf” where that hardback proof will find a good home. Let’s see what she thought of this one…
Firstly, I want to thank Anne Williams who, knowing how much of a Hellenophile I am, kindly sent me a review copy of One August Night.
Victoria Hislop’s first novel, The Island, has stayed with me since it was written in 2005 and inspired my own visit to Spinalonga. It has gone on to much critical acclaim since, so this sequel has an awful lot to live up to. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next to the characters I have become so familiar with, but there was also a sense of trepidation that perhaps my expectations would be too high. After all, how can you best a best-seller?
One August Night deals with the release from Spinalonga of its inhabitants following a cure for leprosy. The tone is set from the opening lines, ‘For some women, pregnancy is a period of good health and joyful expectation, but for Anna Vandoulakis it was a time of misery and nausea.’
Anna is not looking forward to being a mother nor is she looking forward to her sister, Maria, being released from the island. It is Maria’s return to Crete that triggers a violent act that will change the lives of the two families forever.
Anyone expecting to experience the same deep psychological insight into the characters of The Island may feel a slight sense of disappointment by this sequel. We don’t find out about any of the inhabitants except for Maria, and even she is on the sidelines in this book. What we do have is a return to Crete, a return of Hislop’s wonderfully evocative style and a story that follows the intertwining of the lives of Maria, Anna, Manolis and Andreas. There is an equal sense of poignancy and pathos in this book as in the first but it may not be what the reader is expecting. Having said that, in just 240 pages, there is not as much room for the intricate depth and range of characters as in The Island.
I read the book in a day and found it difficult to put down but it is best if you come with no preconceptions and enjoy this book for what it is, rather than what you might want it to be. One August Night left me with as many questions as it answered. What became of all the other people on the island? I think there is scope there for several more books and I for one will devour them all.
Oh, I do hope there will be more! Thank you, Julie, for sharing your review.
About the author
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 1.2 million 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. Cartes Postales from Greece was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and one of the Top Ten biggest selling paperbacks of 2017, and was followed by Those Who Are Loved, a Sunday Times Number One bestseller. Her novels have sold 10 million copies worldwide.