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The Thread by Victoria Hislop

It’s not often that we have a book that scores so uniformly across the board, but this was a pretty solid book for us all.  For most of us, the strength of the book was how much we learned about this particular period of history in Greece generally, and in Thessaloniki in particular. Historical accuracy is clearly very important to Victoria Hislop, but sometimes the amount of detail got in the way of the story, breaking up the narrative. It’s perhaps a difficult line to tread when you are writing historical fiction – knowing how much to include and what to leave out and still accurately represent events of the time. It’s an enjoyable, readable book. Essentially a love story, though a little predictable – it’s no spoiler to tell you that Dimitri and Katerina end up together – you know that from the start – but that does take away some sense of tension and intrigue. If you have read other books by the author (previous reads for some of us are The Island or Those Who Are Loved) you will recognise the familiar device of a character looking back over their life, telling their story to a younger generation. That said, the descriptions of the city, its food, its people and their living conditions were beautifully evocative and the extremes of human behaviour in times of crisis and hardship – kindness and a sense of community versus ruthless exploitation for personal gain – were laid bare.  I for one, would read other books by the same author for what I would learn about the history of their setting. It certainly added an element of interest for the two members of our group who holidayed in Greece this summer. 

Overall score – 6.3 

Range – 6 – 7.5

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