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... Goodreads Blurb
Family saga stories can be quite tricky. There often are certain parts that become more annoying background noise that the reader tries to ignore or force their way through to get to the parts they care about. For me that is what the beginning way for me. I found myself not caring so much fro the modern story that was taking place, while I was raring to get to the past story. The story of Eleni and her two daughters, Anna and Maria, was the story that truly interested me. Theirs was a tale set in 1939 and the following few decades.
The underlying catalyst for this family is the disease, that most of us only know of from biblical times, leprosy. The mother catches it and has to be sent off to the leper colony straight away. This leaves dad to take care of the two daughters. They grow up and try to live their own lives but it all circles back to the leper colony when the daughter is discovered to have the same illness. That is as much as you are gonna get out of me plot-wise. It's a rather good story but.... and I hate to add a but, since I really did enjoy reading this story. I ended up finishing it in a couple of days rather than the week it has been taking me lately. BUT... I couldn't help but be annoyed at the two sisters. One was angelically good while the other one was selfish and greedy. This polar division leaves the characters rather flat. Yes they have moral qualms that we as readers get to know about, but their characters have already been set and it seems that not even death, time, or disease will change them. This flat stroke paints the characters into their corners and gives away the ending. Even with all that I would recommend this book for those who like family stories and overcoming the odds to survive.