A delightful and original new book from multimillion-copy bestselling author Victoria Hislop, author of The Island and The Sunrise
Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A. With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.
On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man’s odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A’s tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.
Cartes Postales from Greece is an extraordinary new book from Victoria Hislop, the Sunday Times Number One bestselling author of The Island, The Return, The Thread, and The Sunrise. It is fiction in full colour – magical and unique.
Cartes Postales from Greece is published on September 22.
The Island, Victoria Hislop’s internationally bestselling debut novel has been chosen by readers as one of WH Smith’s Best Paperbacks of All Time, joining works as dazzlingly diverse as To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice. You can see a full list of the books chosen by readers here.
WHSmith says of their Best Paperbacks of All Time
Paperbacks offer us a world where we can do things we’d never imagine, meet people who are larger than life and experience events that will change our perspective on life forever. A good paperback reels you in and keeps you gripped until the last page, but a great paperback stays with you long after you’ve put that book down.
Every reader has experienced a book like that, and we like to think that every reader is searching for the next book to leave an impression like that on them. And so we took to Facebook and Twitter to ask our followers for the paperbacks that made an impact on them, the ones that they’re constantly recommending to friends – the best paperbacks of all time.
The results are in, and we received a phenomenal number of votes, including everything from books that ignited your love for reading, to controversial books that changed your view of the world, to beautifully written stories that lingered in your imagination. We’ve counted up the votes and below we have your top 100 paperbacks of all time. Take a look to see if your favourite made the top 100, and browse for the next book that could make an impact on you.
Victoria Hislop’s collection of favourite short stories by other female writers, simply titled The Story has given me more pleasure this year than almost all the rest of my reading put together. Like a box of festive Quality Street, you can dip in and never be sure what you will encounter – it might be Virginia Woolf or Alice Munro, this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature winner. Hislop highlights some of the very best writing of the past 200 years, with topics that range far and wide, from humour to pathos, and politics to sex.
Witty, heartbreaking, shocking, satirical: the short story can excite or sadden, entice or repulse. The one thing it can never be is dull. Author Victoria Hislop, a passionate ambassador for the art of the short story, has hand-picked one hundred stories from the very best women writers, bringing them together in a beautifully produced volume, with a personal introduction.
The Story features two centuries of women’s short fiction, ranging from established masters Alice Munro and Angela Carter, to contemporary rising stars such as Miranda July and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Divided thematically into collections on love, loss and the lives of women, the reader will find a story for every mood, mind-set and moment in life.
‘While gathering the short stories for this anthology, I have read some of the most brilliant and profound pieces of writing that I have ever come across. The authors in this anthology range from a Nobel Prize winner, Doris Lessing, to the acknowledged queen of short stories, Alice Munro. There are Man Booker winners, Costa winners and Pulitzer winners. A few were born in the 19th century but the majority are more modern. Several of them are as yet unknown, others are household names, like Virginia Woolf. Many of the most vivid and passionate storytellers are young. And without doubt many of the most powerfully original are contemporary writers …
Random reading recommendation: The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives of Women: 100 Great Short Stories edited by @VicHislop . A rich feast.
Victoria Hislop’s collection of favourite short stories by other female writers, simply titled The Story has given me more pleasure this year than almost all the rest of my reading put together. Like a box of festive Quality Street, you can dip in and never be sure what you will encounter – it might be Virginia Woolf or Alice Munro, this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature winner. Hislop highlights some of the very best writing of the past 200 years, with topics that range far and wide, from humour to pathos, and politics to sex. Books of the Year: Mariella Frostrup, Mail on Sunday
“This huge, beautiful book is a treasure chest of 100 women’s short stories chosen by Victoria Hislop. There are classics, such as Elizabeth Taylor’s The Blush and Katherine Mansfield’s The Canary. In fact, the index reads like a roll-call of the best female writers of the past century, from Virginia Woolf to Hilary Mantel. Alongside Helen Simpson’s brilliant Up at a Villa, in which heartless teenagers get a vision of their future selves, there’s Muriel Spark’s The First Year of My Life, in which a baby narrates the world events of 1918. Relative newbies such as Lucy Wood (Diving Belles) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (The Thing Around Your Neck) more than-hold their own beside thundering names such as Alice Munro, Nadine Gordimer and Margaret Drabble. A collection so good, it’s essential.” The Times.
In this beautiful and vast collection, Victoria Hislop has pas picked her glittering line-up of authors to include Nobel Laureates, Man Booker, Pulitzer and Costa prize winners.[…] these stories are all written by women and represent some of the finest modern writers in the English language. Otherwise, the scope is wide, rich and often unexpected: a collection of fluffy chick-lit this is not.
Perhaps as an early means to defy preconceptions, Hislop picks Katherine Mansfield’s incomplete “An Unmarried Man’s Story” as her appetiser. Employing a male narrator and a modernist structure, Mansfield’s abstract style is challenging but rewarding. Her fragmented glimpses of past and present create an authentic circularity in the search for reality. Other writers also use the male narrator, but no one as frankly as AM Homes, whose brilliant story opens with a man analysing his manhood; “I am sitting naked on a kitchen chair, staring at it.”
Darkly comic, Dorothy Parker’s monologue “The Telephone Call” has a woman obsess about a call to an uninterested lover: so familiar and excruciating, but it blows Bridget out of the water. Doris Lessing’s aptly named “A Man and Two Women” involves a woman drawn into a relationship between two friends: an unset t lingly voyeuristic study of married life. Most memorable, perhaps, is the mercurial love of a mother, galloping on a horse wielding a sword to save her doomed, impassive daughter in Angela Carter’s subversive “The Bloody Chamber”.
The stories cross borders of distance as well as genre and time. Yiyun Li’s “Love in die Marketplace” explores an uneasy but fierce love between mother and a forsaken daughter, each clinging to the dignity of their life, after being sidelined by their rural Chinese culture. Stylistic experimentation is not overlooked and in “The Thing Around Your Neck”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes about immigrant experience in the second person, a device that lends a fresh potency where it might irritate in a novel. Surreal and symbolic, Anna Kavan’s daring story starts with a visit from “an unusually large, handsome leopard” whose appearance begins a compulsion for the unattainable.
If perfection exists in the form it comes from Alice Munro who proves herself worthy of her recent Nobel Prize. In “Miles City, Montana” and “Gravel”, Munro reveals the devastation caused by “all our natural, and particular, mistakes”. Freya McClelland, Independent
The Story is a beautifully put together collection of 100 pieces of short fiction from masters of the genre including Angela Carter, AM Homes, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, Ali Smith, Emma Donoghue, Jeanette Winterson and Katherine Mansfield. Divided into the categories Love, Loss and The Lives of Women, the volume showcases the very best writing by women, and the talent and variety on display is staggeringly impressive. From Virginia WooIf’s wonderfully wry, thought-provoking A Society, in which a group of disillusioned women agree to stop having children until they have found out what the world created by men is like, to A.M. Homes’ twisted A Real Doll, in which the young protagonist develops an intense physical relationship with a Barbie, these stories illustrate just how powerful and versatile the form can be. For fans of this sometimes overlooked genre, Christmas has come early. Diva
Intricate, beautifully observed and with a painter’s eye for imagery, in these stories Hislop evokes Greece, its people, its customs and traditions with a sensitivity that reveals her deep knowledge of not just the place but also the human condition.
A new collection of short stories by Victoria Hislop*
In ten powerful stories, Victoria Hislop takes us through the streets of Athens and into the tree-lined squares of Greek villages. As she evokes their distinct atmosphere, she brings vividly to life a host of unforgettable characters, from a lonesome priest to battling brothers, and from an unwanted stranger to a groom troubled by music and memory.
These bittersweet tales of love and loyalty, of separation and reconciliation, captured in Victoria Hislop’s unique voice, will stay with you long after you reach the end.
(*Three of these stories were previously published in Victoria Hislop’s ebook collection, One Cretan Evening.)
The book, exclusive to Waterstones, brings together “eighteen great writers to reflect the mood and changes of 2012. Through the eyes of some of the leading fiction writers, essayists, and poets, it offers an immediate reaction to the highs and lows of the past year.”
I learned two things while I was reading this book. First, that true stories can be more exciting and extraordinary than fictional ones. And second, that the best books are the ones where you are glued to your seat. This is how it was with The Perfect Storm.
In 1998 we had just brought a crumbling 14th-century house in Kent. It is largely constructed from timber, recycled from old sailing boats and brought up from the Kent coast. In a high wind, it creaks just like a ship and in a storm everything rattles and sways. There are no foundations, just a timber base on which the house rests; this expands and contracts, allowing for the natural movements of the earth.
On a night in late October, with a howling gale outside, I sat down to read this book. Only when I closed it did I realise that the date on which the events took place exactly matched the date on which I was reading it. It was Halloween. The rest of the family was in the other room watching the television, but I decided to stay reading by our old metal stove that was useless for cooking, but good for “hugging” on cold nights. It seemed to me that this book was meant to be read on such a night: it was “The Perfect Book”.
It tells the true story of a trawler, the Andrea Gail, which went out on a six-week trip to fish for tuna from Massachusetts and encountered a massive storm caused by the freak meeting of two weather fronts.
On that night, with rain lashing at the windows, my imagination was entirely caught up in this account of real events and the relationships between the men who live this strange and dangerous life. From page one, there is a sense of doom, but this makes the almost bland, matter-of-fact tone all the more powerful. It is a book devoid of sentimentality, but somehow full of feeling.
At the beginning of each chapter, there is some kind of quote. Sometimes I find this habit a bit pretentious, an after-thought designed to connect the writer with greater ones, but in The Perfect Storm the quotes fit perfectly. Many are from the Bible (the terrifying movement of the sea is entirely biblical in scale) and several from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick: “All collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it had five thousand years ago.”
It was this sense of the relentless power of the elements that overwhelmed me as I finished reading, and the almost callous way in which the crew were treated by the sea: “They didn’t die, they disappeared off the face of the earth.” The men may have vanished, but this book means that they will never be forgotten – and the memory of those hours when I read it remains a very sharp one.
Victoria Hislop’s ‘The Thread’ is out in paperback from Headline Review
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