The Thread by Victoria Hislop
Set in Thessalonica in the early part of the 20th Century, this novel traces the history of a family and its neighbours through turbulent times in
As before, Victoria Hislop has given a modern character chapters at the beginning and end of a historical novel - here a young Anglo-Greek learns about his grandparents’ early life. This perhaps unnecessary literary-sandwich device reveals the fact that Dimitri and Katerina do marry eventually, but that doesn’t detract too much from what is an interesting story.
Again the research is excellent. Given the historical setting, the plot is inevitably complex, and this time
Having lived in Greece for four years and read Olivia Manning, Captain Corelli etc, I knew some of Greece’s recent history but I didn’t remember about the harrowing Greek-Turkish exchange of population that took place in 1923 and the preceding years, and I also found the steps that were taken to hide and preserve Jewish sacraments before WW2 touching and interesting.
I did have one problem. After some 30 years, I’ve forgotten most of the kitchen Greek I spoke, but nonetheless while reading The Thread I kept being distracted by the unnatural way the characters used each other’s names in dialogue - nominative instead of vocative(!) etc - but most readers won’t notice so I’m being pedantic.
Having found The Return somewhat of an effort to read, I wasn’t sure I was going to bother with VH’s next book, but this, while still a serious novel, has a lighter touch and I much enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone interested in Greece and modern European history in general. VH fans will love it, I'm sure.