On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.
Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone’s throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. Then she finds Fotini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip…
I have mixed feelings about this novel. On one hand I really enjoyed the detailed situations and learning about the history of Alexis’s family and joining her in her journey to discovering where she came from. On the other hand, this novel dragged.
I didn’t engage with any of the characters as I felt they had little substance behind them. They seemed to be very clear cut; one was ‘good’ and one was ‘bad’ which was too simplistic. Parts of the plot didn’t make sense, for example, why the mother didn’t question her paternal grandparents.
The prejudice about the disease was believable, and no doubt the author researched this accurately. This was a difficult read to finish so I’m not sure I’d be inclined to read another like this.