The Thread by Victoria Hislop

Title: The Thread
Author: Victoria Hislop

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1910s / Greece / Cultural Confusion / WWI / 1930s / WWII / Family Saga)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (7/10/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked
Did I finish?: I did -- I savored this one over a week.
One-sentence summary: The story of a Greek city and one couple's love for each other and their hometown, spanning nearly a century.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's bold and eye-catching, although I wish there would have been a historical image of Thessaloniki used (I'm presuming the city on the cover is Thessaloniki; my ARC doesn't give credit info for the cover.).

I'm reminded of...: Meira Chand, Tan Twan Eng, James A. Michener

First line: What I would like you to do, my dear, is to imagine you are a child again.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like saga-ish fiction -- historical or otherwise -- with a strong sense of place.

Why did I get this book?: The setting, the family saga, the pretty cover!

Review: I love reading novels for the armchair escape and the free history lesson. In this case, the Greek city of Thessaloniki is the setting of The Thread, and one couple's lifelong relationship the columns for holding up this saga-ish look at love, family, national identity, belonging, loss, and war.

Starting in 2007, a beloved grandson finally learns just how his grandparents met and what their lives were like. Normally I hate this frame -- why not just start with the meat of the story? -- but in this case, it worked for me. Hislop is skilled at conveying a foreign world in a way that resonates and feels ... not familiar so much as seen -- as if in a film or photo series. I've never been to Thessaloniki (hadn't heard of it, actually!) but in her story, this was a city I fell in love with, broke my heart over, and dreamed of visiting. Once a vibrant multi-religious setting of culture and commerce, a fire in 1917 razes much of the city, and the armies of World War I and II finish the job. The story doesn't end there, though; through our couple, we follow Greece through another forty years or so of change and their own responses to that.

There's romance, obviously, but as we know from the start of the novel that the couple stays together, the meat of the story for me wasn't the will-they-won't-they but how would they weather such violence and striking change. Their love of place influenced me and I loved Thessaloniki, and had my own complicated feelings about how the city evolved over the nearly one hundred years the novel covers.

If you're a fan of WWI or WWII fic, grab this one -- the Greek setting was interesting for me -- and anyone who likes a good family saga should give this one a try. I immediately thought of book clubs for this one -- at 400 pages it is a bit chunky but I raced through the story (although I made myself slow down to savor) and there's a wealth of themes for discussion.

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!

I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Thread to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/Canadian readers, ends 7/27.


Comments

  1. I definitely want to read this one. WWII, family saga...I'm there! I read Hislop's The Return set during the Spanish Civil War and really liked it, so adding this one to my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anna -- I thought of you the whole time I was reading this -- it has so many elements that just make for a gorgeous wartime novel -- conflict, of course, but a fantastic sense of family and place. I'm so going to look for Hislop's previous novels now!

      Delete
  2. This one does sound good, and like something that would really pull me in. I love historical fiction, and get really excited about family sagas, so there is double interest for me. Great review today, Audra. I loved what you had to say about this one, and although I've reached my quota for WWII reads, I think I will make an exception for this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather -- I'm so afraid I'm just redundant hyperbole sometimes! This was just a fantastic mix of wonderful writing -- felt v 'English' to me, if that makes sense, restrained, but wonderfully emotive, under the surface -- and it's more than a WWII novel, I'd say -- conflict and war, of course, but surviving, too.

      Delete
  3. I was so confused, have I read this one? ;) It's the covers, they mess with me when I read another one

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, I'm sure!!! I've done that to myself, too!

      Delete
  4. A very interesting time in history. I look forward to reading The Thread!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was -- it's an era I'm super unfamiliar with, but just loved how real Hislop made it!

      Delete
  5. I don't read much historical fiction but I do enjoy that time period and the Greek setting sounds interesting too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy -- this struck me as a kind of hist fic for those who don't like it -- it was the 'typical' kind of hist fic -- really a story of a place and two people who love it -- I do recommend it!

      Delete
  6. How the heck did I miss out on reading this one?! I must have been asleep! Anyway, great review..something I'd definitely be interested in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww, I know, it seemed so you and Anna in terms of flavor, style, subject, etc. So good!

      Delete
    2. LOL I have no idea how I missed this one, but its on the list now.

      Delete
  7. I agree that the love story was almost a secondary element to the events that were happening to and around Dimitri and Katerina and their beloved city. I enjoyed your review.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I so love the "free history lesson" :) I'm not familiar with much about Greek history and just know the stereotypical cultural details. I do tend to get all caught up in a new history and then think I have to scavenge everything I can get my hands on about it after being introduced to a new perspective :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is SO that book, then -- you'll be mad for all things Greek after this one -- it was just fascinating. I was googling images of the city for days!

      Delete
  9. Glad you enjoyed this one Audra - I sounds like my cup of tea!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have been wanting to read this since I first saw the cover. Thank you for the entry. Have a great day!

    Sandee61

    Muzzley56(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  11. This book sounds like a great and enjoyable way to learn about Greece and specifically Thessaloniki. The fact that Hislop's writing made you fall in love with this city makes me want to read this book. It's sad how the coity was destroyed and I'm curious to read what it became. I also enjoy good family sagas and this one sounds wonderful.
    You are skilled at choosing terrific books, Audra. Thank you! And thank you for a terrific review.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This sounds like an intriguing book. The Greek background and the family drama sound interesting to me. Thanks for the giveaway.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am a fan of historical fiction but sadly I find I read very little of it lately. I'll have to add this one to my list. I can't resist the setting.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Winter 2017 Bloggiesta To Do Post

Brisk Book Reviews: 2016 Reads I Never Reviewed, Part One

This brief memoir of the internet, art, and harassment broke my heart. I didn't expect that.

Wordless Wednesday, November 8