Monday, April 18, 2016

P is for PLAKA - A GREEK VILLAGE #AtoZChallenge

For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.

Every so often, a novel takes my breath away with its unexpected story line. The Island - A Novel by Victoria Hislop is one such books. The story begins in the Greek village of Plaka, which becomes a backdrop for a heartrending story about four generations of women touched by "dreams and desires" and "secrets desperately hidden" as disease erodes their lives.
Shortly after moving to Hawai'i in 1992, I started reading about Kalaupapa on the Island of Moloka'i, where the local people who were diagnosed with "leprosy" now known as Hansen's Disease, were taken to live out their lives. Although I have visited Moloka'i, the donkey ride down to the peninsula is still on my bucket list. . .very high on the list.
When I picked up a copy of The Island - A Novel, I was amazed to learn that off the coast of Plaka is the tiny island of Spinalonga, where the Greek nation's leper colony once was located - a place that has "haunted four generations of Petrakis women." I savored every single one of the novel's 473 pages.
For me, The Fun in Writing extends to The Fun in Reading.
To stay on track with my goal of reading and reviewing 71 books between Oct., 2015 and Oct., 2016, my book review follows.
THE ISLAND - A Novel by Victoria Hislop

A comment by The Observer (UK) about this book: “At last – a beach book with heart ...” suggests the commentator did not understand the underlying material presented in the story (or does not comprehend the local meaning of “beach read.” Not that the book couldn’t be read while lounging on the beach, but that “a beach book” implies a light, fast read, to be enjoyed with little thought, and as quickly forgotten.
Over the years, I’ve read much about Kalaupapa, Father Damien, and the “leper colony” on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai’i. This added a special interest in my reading of Victoria Hislop’s The Island, which is set on Spinalonga. This tiny island off the coast of Plaka, a small Greek seaside village, is where that nation’s “leper colony” was located during the twentieth century.
The pain of separation permeates the pages of this novel that tells of a man’s love for his family which is sorely overwhelmed by ravages of the disease. There is the agony of forced removal from family and friends living in Plaka; relocation and isolation from the rest of humanity; the experience of constant guilt over an uncontrollable situation. Loss of control and independence in your life devastates the mind, body, & soul.
This is the story of one family’s triumph over an adversity far beyond imagination.

Click here to view internet photographs of Plaka:


  1. I enjoyed reading The Island too. I felt like I could taste the food and everything.
    Just trying to catch up with posts after being offline for nearly 2 weeks. Enjoying your blog.
    Amanda (from

  2. Thanks for visiting today, Amanda and Shilpa. Yes, the views around Plaka are breathtaking. Sad story, though.

  3. I've just added The Island to my somewhat staggering TBR pile. Doesn't sound like a beach read to me. In the preview, one sentence stands out, "Only a philistine would go to Crete without visiting Knossos . . . " Reminds me of a trip we took to Greece and wandered through ancient ruins everywhere. That's a staggering goal -- to review 71 books in a year. I try for 2 a month, typically indie writers. Thank you for visiting. Look forward to reading more of your posts.


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