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.
It’s 10 years since Victoria Hislop’s extraordinary debut novel, The Island, was first published. Since then it has gone on to sell millions of copies in 24 languages around the world.
To celebrate we would like to invite Victoria’s fans to join her on Wednesday 16th September for a exclusive event, which will include the only UK screening of the first episode of Το Νησί the hugely successful Greek TV adaptation of the novel.
The £25 ticket price includes a special limited edition hardback of The Island (RRP £30) and a bespoke goody bag.
6pm drinks and popcorn on arrival at Carmelite House
6.30pm only UK screening of the first episode of the smash-hit Greek TV series of THE ISLAND introduced by Victoria herself
8pm Q & A with Victoria accompanied by Greek drinks and nibbles in our stunning rooftop cafe and roof terrace overlooking the Thames with panoramic views of London
Victoria Hislop is to open London debut exhibition by up-and-coming Greek artist Harikleia Papapostolou at Belgravia Gallery Papapostolou’s bold, colour-infused abstract oil paintings will be on show at Belgravia Gallery, at 23 Maddox Street, W1, in the heart of the West End art district, from May 12 to 16 2015. The exhibition will be entitled I Love You.
“I love Harikleia’s work,” said Victoria. “Her use of texture, movement and colour is really exceptional. But as important as her technique is her passion, which I see in every piece that she creates. Harikleia is a very talented artist and I am very proud to own one of her paintings. It fills the room with light and energy.”
Harikleia Papapostolou is being introduced to discerning UK audiences by London art consultant Diane Soames. Ms Papapostolou’s large canvases, which are as striking as the brilliant light of the Greek mainland and islands while avoiding any shade of pictorial cliché, enthrall her viewers.
While expressing her own feelings through her harmonised abstract forms, Harikleia prefers viewers to make their own interpretations, but does insist that her projects symbolise life itself in its constant motion, in its pulsating and illuminated striving for continuity. “There is no need to try to understand a work of art: we can just feel it,” she says. “My hope is that my work is able to evoke interpretations and feelings I have not even imagined. That way I can feel that the viewer has come to a form of possession of the work through gazing upon it.”
Opened in 1986, Belgravia Gallery is run by mother and daughter, Anna Hunter and Laura Walford. The gallery is at 23 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2QN.
For further information and images, please contact DIANE SOAMES, [email protected] or telephone 0788 7515711.
An exceptional body of work has been brought to London for the first time by the Greek artist Harikleia Papapostolou, who rejoices in the ability of humanity to draw the qualities of light, strength and beauty from the ever-changing world around her.
Her indomitable optimism shines through the temper of her boldly colourful canvases as she adroitly applies layers of oils, elevating her themes to the universal.
Harikleia Papapostolou endows her works with assertive titles, such as Expansion to the Silver Light, Together, and I Love You, but she is confident that whoever sees them will come to their own interpretations and conclusions. “I prefer the viewer to discover their own answers,” she said in a recent interview, and insists that the works are always of “changing reading.”
All credit is due to London fine art consultant Diane Soames for introducing Harikleia Papapostolou to discerning UK audiences, who will surely appreciate the artist’s original and memorable use of colour in a manner treating of empathy with all that is worthy of celebration in human nature. The title of this latest exhibition, Breathing Colours, gives expression to Harikleia’s facility in eliciting luminous hues from her surroundings, physical and mental: “I love colour, and I need it in my life,” she says. She is indeed living and breathing that gift of nature, which is colour.
Her joy in building her structures in paint and her ardour for her principles of hope and faith are palpable and inalienable. Matching a liberal experimentation with colour and the self-assurance exuded in the emergence of the abstract forms, these works are monumental. She sees the pieces as symbolising life itself, pulsating and illuminated.
In employing abstract form she creates a vehicle for freedom of expression at the same time as the product develops its autonomy. She admits to once imagining that her work might struggle to find a response from spectators, but says that to her surprise she discovered that it strikes a chord with many people. This underlines her belief that there is no need fully to comprehend a work of art; rather one should just “feel” it. Art is the ability to build your own world free from undue outside influence, and art and culture can counter-balance changing conditions such as societal shifts, she asserts.
Art can change your perspective, your needs and your feelings for the better. We
have greater need than we might think of art, which among its roles is as a place of our refuge, says Harikleia.
She explains: “My obsession is to depict the constant movement of life pulsating. This collection reveals my need for light, since there is a luminous form even in my darkest works. There is a connection for me between all things, emotions, and being: everything conceals creativity, continuation, development, movement. Movement is life.
“Attempting to decide upon specific, characteristic elements creates imbalance. Balance is the understanding that we are comprised of contradictions. An element of my work is a proclivity towards continuation-evolution, towards the unpredictable as a positive state connected to expectancy. It is established out of necessity: the unpredictable is our tendency, our natural course. In my art there is a hidden need for haste before life itself overtakes us. This leads me to conclude that every person has their individual speed which causes them to follow their own rhythm.
“I state my perspective with specific forms as symbols, yet colour is also a powerful symbol for me. I always want my colours to be adaptable to change through light.
“My hope is that my work is able to evoke interpretations and feelings I have not even imagined. This way I can feel that the viewer has come to a form of possession of the work through their gaze. I am moved by this, because I can feel that my work is free, and this is my intention.”
As the distinguished critic Harris Kambourides of the Academia Europaea wrote in a foreword to the catalogue for one of Harikleia’s exhibitions in Athens, her pictures shine in vibrant volumes of colour, releasing dynamism and energy like images from the Sun or the Earth or images of hearts.
Indeed, we see here that colour dances with colour, sometimes as though the Big Bang that created the universe has just erupted. The whole is happily subsumed in an exhilarating finished product – except in our minds the image is not ‘finished,’ it will go on maturing, giving rein to ever fresh perceptions. Like the current stage of evolution of the universe, the aesthetic is a wonder, but that is not the end of things – matter is constantly in motion, otherwise it would not be matter. That means that life is in motion and in progress, and is our effort to improve, with each person according to their own motive.
“In the attempt to make sense of myself through my work,” says Harikleia, “I came by chance to the realisation that my roots are to be found in the colours of my palette.” As she “came closer” to these colours, she began to know herself. “Now it is through certain colours, just as through my personal philosophy, that I express myself, so that each work of art is created with its own meaning.”
There is a connection of contradictory elements. “Connections simplify meanings as they consist of inner knowledge which is more powerful than every explanatory action.”
Harikleia Papapostolou, who was born in the small town of Stratoni, Halkidiki, northern Greece, graduated in 2011 from Aristotle University School of Fine Arts in Thessaloniki, so has had a fairly short career in which to become established. Despite this, her rise as a professional artist in Greece has been rapid, via just a few solo and group exhibitions, and with 2014 being especially garlanded with successes for her, and now 2015 set to be an even more rewarding year.
My love for Greece began as a holiday romance nearly 40 years ago. I was a teenager and landed in Athens one blisteringly hot day in August with my mother and sister. It was only my second time out of England.
In spite of the dust, chaos, traffic and signs in a language and alphabet I didn’t understand, I was immediately enchanted. Perhaps it was the brilliance of the blue sky and the dazzling pale stones of the Acropolis, or simply the sight of swallows dipping and diving in the all-embracing warmth of our first evening there.
The charm that held me in its spell intensified when we sailed to one of the Cycladic islands. Paros, with its narrow streets of whitewashed buildings and bright splashes of bougainvillea, seemed a paradise. (Admittedly, the only real thing I had to compare it with was Bognor Regis.) We spent the day swimming in the crystal-clear sea and collecting tiny shells that were scattered across the pale sand. In the evening, we sat in waterfront tavernas, where dark-eyed waiters served generous slices of moussaka, fresh feta, sweet crimson tomatoes and huge smiles of watermelon. I had my first taste of Greek yoghurt.
It was thick and white, like cream. There was nothing like it in an English supermarket in those days.
Since then, I have travelled to Greece a hundred times or more. Turkey came later: I’ve taken a month-long overland trip in a minivan, crossing the plains of Anatolia. I’ve jumped off Mount Babadag to paraglide for an hour at 3,000ft, spying turtles in the sea below. And Istanbul is one of the most thrilling cities in the world. The restaurant bill in Turkey always comes as a pleasant surprise, too.
For me, however, if it were a choice, it would be Greece every time. I struggle to say whether I prefer the islands or the mainland. A particular city or a village? What do I love most? Is it the landscape or its ancient culture? The beaches or the mountains? The food? The climate? The people? It’s no single one of those. They are simply inseparable.
As a student, I travelled around the mainland on buses and slept rough on beaches. In between then and now, there were years of holidays in resort hotels, which were reliable and safe options for our small children. There have also been mid-range villas on the islands and mainland, and, most recently, a short stay at the Amanzoe, in the Peloponnese, which cost a staggering £750 a night.
It’s tempting to fly to Athens, then get a ferry straight out to the islands — but it would be madness not to make the hot climb up to the Parthenon and follow this with a visit to the cool spaces of the Acropolis Museum below. The milling crowds of young Athenians queuing for tables at Monastiraki, near the flea market, make the economic crisis seem far away. Likewise Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, which got so far under my skin, I set a novel there.
When I look at the list of 20 islands I have stayed on, the astonishing truth is that no two are the same: volcanic, otherworldly Santorini; lush Corfu; sweet-smelling, pine-covered Spetses; quiet, car-free Hydra; rugged Cephalonia; peaceful, spiritual Patmos.
I have the biggest space in my heart, however, for Crete. A few years ago, we bought a house there. Everyone said this was insane, and it was, given that the Greek economy was sliding to the edge of an abyss. But there have been no regrets. The island has everything: mountains, gorges, plateaus, beaches, ancient palaces, Venetian harbours and dozens of small towns and villages that still hold fast to a way of life that has never changed. A plate of fresh sardines served by the water in Moxlos, eastern Crete, is the definition of simplicity and perfection. Summer days here comprise little but swimming, eating, reading and backgammon, with night-times often spent watching stars shoot across the sky. After all these years, I feel I have only just begun. There are so many islands I have yet to visit (Skiathos is on my list this summer), walks to be done, seas to be swum, museums to be visited. My appetite for Greece will never be sated.
Last October I joined Lepra to launch their #BeatLeprosy campaign. I pledged to see the end of the devastating effects of leprosy by 2024. Now, hundreds of people have joined the campaign to help put an end to this devastating disease… but more people like you are needed. Please, take the time to visit the Lepra website here (bit.ly/1AbKQqt) and, it you can, please join me and PLEDGE to #BeatLeprosy…
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