When Helena inherits her grandparents’ apartment in Athens, she is overwhelmed with memories of the summers she spent there as a child, when Greece was under a brutal military dictatorship. Her remote, cruel grandfather was one of the regime’s generals and as she sifts through the dusty rooms, Helena discovers an array of valuable objects and antiquities. How did her grandfather amass such a trove? What human price was paid for them?
Helena’s desire to find answers about her heritage dovetails with a growing curiosity for archaeology, ignited by a summer spent with volunteers on a dig on an Aegean island. Their finds fuel her determination to protect the precious fragments recovered from the baked earth – and to understand the origins of her grandfather’s collection.
Helena’s attempt to make amends for some of her grandfather’s actions sees her wrestle with the meaning of ‘home’, both in relation to looted objects of antiquity … and herself.
Praise for The Figurine
“A tightly wrought excavation of family history”
– Mail on Sunday
“Searing and powerful”
– Daily Express
“Glorious Greek setting and rich historical detail”
– Woman & Home
“Hislop’s thyme-scented, Aegean-lapped fictional Greece”
– The Sunday Times
“Hislop’s love for Greece shines and transports readers through space and time to a brilliantly drawn world”
– The Independent
“…readers can’t fail to be swept up in her ongoing love affair with all things Greek and, in The Figurine, the focus turns to the country’s ancient statuettes and the looting trade that surrounds them.[…]a gripping storyline that leaves no stone unturned”
– Daily Express
The Figurine is set during the period of the Junta army dictatorship in Greece in the 1960s and 1970s, and Victoria’s story was inspired by the Cycladic figurine and the influence they had on 20th century art. She wanted to explore the crime that beauty and antiquity can drive people to.
Speaking on The Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose, The Island writer revealed that the statutes, most of whom are women and found by grave sites, are actually illegal to buy and sell, and the genesis of her story came from the argument over antiquities in museums thousands of miles away from their home.... Read the full article
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A dramatic and moving story set in the same world as the international bestseller The Island from the celebrated novelist Victoria Hislop.
The absorbing story of the Cretan village of Plaka and the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leprosy colony – is told to us by Maria Petrakis, one of the children in the original version of The Island. She tells us of the ancient and misunderstood disease of leprosy, exploring the themes of stigma, shame and the treatment of those who are different, which are as relevant for children as adults. Gill Smith’s rich, full-colour illustrations will transport the reader to the timeless and beautiful Greek landscape and Mediterranean seascape.
“The idea came out of a conversation with some school teachers in Crete.” said Victoria “They commented that there were so many themes in the story that were as relevant to children as to adults but felt that the original novel was a little too grown-up for many of them. I realised that much of the book is actually about children and their experiences of stigma and loss, so this has been a wonderful experience for me, to look at things through their eyes. Writing for children requires a whole different set of skills and I hope they will enjoy reading it.”
Praise for Maria’s Island
The tale is narrated by Maria, one of the children in Hislop’s novel The Island, from which this engrossing yarn is skillfully adapted for younger readers.
― The Daily Telegraph
Sometimes poignant but never upsetting, this book highlights the strength of love, friendship and resilience over adversity. Complemented wonderfully by Gill Smith’s beautiful illustrations, this is an ideal book for older early readers who are ready explore more complex themes associated such as coping with adversity and having respect for others who may be different from themselves.
– Gazette Herald Books of the Month
I picked this book up as soon as it arrived and couldn’t put it down. My favourite things were the Greek setting and the history in the story, and I loved that the character was called Anna – best name ever! I didn’t know much about this story before I read it and enjoyed finding out about the adventures. I would recommend it to my friends. I liked the illustrations too.
— Anna, Age 11 ― Toppsta
“…a powerful story about love, stigma and hope.”
– Mini Travellers
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