An Interview with Victoria
Following on from the success of The Island, The Sunrise and Cartes Postales from Greece, Victoria Hislop’s latest novel, Those Who Are Loved, is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece in World War II, the subsequent civil war and military dictatorship. The novel sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves an epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.
Interview by Alice Beazer for New Books – 100th issue
What was the original inspiration for Those Who Are Loved?
The inspiration really was seeing Makronisos from a distance – the island prison – and realising that Greece had its own Alcatraz or its Robben Island. I found that deeply intriguing! And ten years later, here is the novel. It was a big subject to investigate.
Those Who Are Loved begins in 2016, as Themis sits with her grandchildren. The narrative then goes back to Themis’ childhood, and tells the extraordinary tale of her life chronologically. Why did you choose to structure the novel in this way – beginning and ending in the present day (well, almost the present day)?
I have always been drawn to the notion of an older person telling a story to a younger one. Now that I am writing this, I am wondering whether this goes back to our early years when our parents, grandparents, teachers perhaps, read to us. It seems very natural to be told a story by an older person. I have done this in several of my novels. But there is an added layer perhaps – where the life of the older person has contained events or actions which they have wanted to conceal, for reasons of stigma or perhaps fear of persecution.
Juliet Stevenson reads “Those who are Loved”
You can now listen to exclusive extracts from the audiobook of Those Who are Loved, read by Juliet Stevenson, courtesy of Headline books.
You can listen to the whole excerpt by clicking the link below
Or listen to individual chapters by clicking on the links below
Those Who Are Loved
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.
A few of my favourite (Greek) Things…