The Thread

The ThreadVictoria Hislop’s eagerly-awaited third novel, “The Thread”, was published by Headline Books in October, 2011. In it she returns to Greece, taking as her backdrop the troubled history of the city of Thessaloniki in a story that spans almost a century, beginning  with the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 which almost destroyed the city, burning for almost two days and razing 9,500 houses. The city that rose from the ashes would be very different both architecturally – since  the government commissioned a  French architect to design a new urban plan – but perhaps more importantly in its population since the events that were to unfold shortly afterwards changed the demography of the city forever


Thessaloniki, 1917. As Dimitri Komninos is born, a fire sweeps through the thriving multicultural city, where Christians, Jews and Moslems live side by side. It is the first of many catastrophic events that will change for ever this city, as war, fear and persecution begin to divide its people. Five years later, young Katerina escapes to Greece when her home in Asia Minor is destroyed by the Turkish army. Losing her mother in the chaos, she finds herself on a boat to an unknown destination. From that day the lives of Dimitri and Katerina become entwined, with each other and with the story of the city itself.

Thessaloniki, 2007. A young Anglo-Greek hears the life story of his grandparents for the first time and realises he has a decision to make. For many decades, they have looked after the memories and treasures of people who have been forcibly driven from their beloved city. Should he become their new custodian? Should he stay or should he go?

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The Thread Victoria Hislop“I never knew how painful and difficult the history of modem Greece had been until I read “The Thread” (Headline Review) by Victoria Hislop, my favourite of her three novels so far. With a large cast of memorable characters, it tells the story of Thessaloniki from the great fire of 1917 to the present day and manages to be at once a romance, a thriller (the Second World War sequences are brilliant) and a sombre reflection on how Greece got to where it is today.”
Anthony Horowitz, Telegraph Books of the Year

“…a sweeping, magnificently detailed and ambitious saga that wrestles with the turbulence of the period … those who loved The Island, her hugely successful first novel, will fall on it”
The Sunday Times

“Hislop has done well to tell a story as diverse and tempestuous as Thessaloniki’s with such lightness of touch.[…] The novel’s overarching power derives from the fluidity with which these rapidly changing times are treated.”
The Spectator

“‘The Thread’ is a more ambitious novel than her previous books, more expansive in its sweep of history, more controversial in its political stance. Her many, many fans will be delighted with what is her best novel yet.”
The Scotsman
(full review)

“Hislop … is very good at interweaving the lives of individuals into the backcloth of great events… this is a writer of laudably high ambition and it would only take a small nudge to move her to a whole new level. Recommended”
Daily Mail
(full review)

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Background reading to The Thread

All novels which use history as a backdrop require and deserve diligent research into the world the writer hopes to portray. These are some of the books I read during my research for ‘The Thread’. In addition to these, there are others in the London Library, in the Modern Greek History section as well as in the Embroidery section:

  • Concise History of Greece – Richard Clogg
  • Hellas – Nikolaos Gatzogiannis
  • Remember Greece – Dilys Powell
  • The Colossus of Maroussi – Henry Miller
  • The Hill of Kronos – Peter Levi
  • 92 Archanon Street – John Lucas
  • Greek Fire – Nicholas Gage
  • Salonica, City of Ghosts – Mazower
  • Chronicle of the Big Fire – Yerolympos
  • Farewell to Salonika – Leon Sciaky
  • Twice a Stranger – Bruce Clark
  • Heirs of the Greek Catastrophe – Renee Hirshon
  • Population Exchange and Rural Settlement of Refugees – Kontogiorgi
  • The Unmixing of Turks and Greeks – Nansen Memorial Lecture – Huntford
  • Crossing the Aegean – edited by Renee Hirshon
  • I was sent to Athens – Morgenthau
  • Smyrna: The Destruction of a City – Marjorie Housepian Dobkin
  • Paradise Lost, Smyrna 1922 – Giles Milton
  • The Balkan Exchange of Minorities – Dimitri Pentzopoulos
  • Greece and the Greek Refugees – Eddy
  • Beyond the Aegean – Elia Kazan
  • Christ Recrucified – Kazantzakis
  • Motherland – Dmetri Kakmi
  • Not Even My Name – Thea Halo
  • Farewell Anatolia – Dido Sotiriou
  • The Mermaid Madonna – Stratis Myrivilis
  • Secrets of the Bosphorous – Morgenthau
  • The Jewish Community of Salonika – Bea Lewcowicz
  • The Illusion of Safety – Michael Matsas
  • From Thessaloniki to Auschwitz and Back – Kounio Amariglio
  • The Holocaust in Salonica: Eyewitness Accounts – Ed. Steve Bowman
  • Greece – A Jewish History – Fleming
  • Road to Rembetika – Gail Holst
  • The House by the Sea – Fromer
  • The Origins of the Greek Civil War – Close
  • Greek Civil War – O’Ballance
  • Becoming a Subject: Political Prisoners – Polymeris Voglis
  • After the War was Over – Ed. Mark Mazower
  • Eleni – Nicholas Gage
  • Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries – ed. Goldberg

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