Those Who Are Loved is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.
Themis is part of a family bitterly divided by politics and, as a young woman, her fury with those who have collaborated with the Nazis, drives her to fight for the communists. She is eventually imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri, and has to make a life or death decision. She is proud of having fought, but for the rest of her life is haunted by some of her actions. Forty years after the end of the civil war, she finally achieves catharsis.
Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity of Greece’s traumatic past and weaves it into the dynamic tale of a woman who is both hero and villain, and her lifelong fight for justice.
Published May 30th 2019 by Headline (UK)
~ Review ~
It’s years ago now that I read and adored Victoria Hislop’s The Island. It was at a time when I hadn’t read an awful lot since childhood, but following separation from my now ex husband and having a small baby at home, I once again turned to books. I remember feeling so transported in both time and place when reading it and without doubt it is a book that reignited my love for reading.
Fast forward more than a decade and those feelings I remember when reading The Island were once again present as I read her latest novel, Those Who Are Loved. Set during and post World War 2 in Greece, it tells the story of Themis and her family, and their struggles through a period of time that not only divided a nation but the family itself.
I have to be honest and say I didn’t know about Greece’s occupation by the Nazi’s during the war or the civil war that followed. I learned so much from this book, not by being told about it but by actually feeling that I’d been taken there and was experiencing it alongside Themis. This is a book that quite literally consumes you. The depth of emotion is astounding and the mood of an entire nation at war with itself is electric.
I adored Themis. Her devotion, loyalty and courage shines throughout. There’s some very difficult chapters when she is held captive which shocked me and I felt nothing but admiration for those who went through such atrocities yet still remained true to themselves. I particularly enjoyed how Hislop depicted the relationship between Themis and her brother. With strongly opposing political views, their turbulent relationship represents the division of the country. Sweeping through decades, I loved how they were eventually able to find some common ground and their story really touched my heart.
Those Who Are Loved is a sweeping epic, spanning decades and truly brings history to life. I actually hugged this wonderful book when I’d finished – so moved were I by the story of this brave and courageous woman. Easily in my top three books of the year so far this year, i can’t recommend it highly enough.
(Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tour and the publishers for my advance proof copy)