Victoria Hislop in conversation
Best-selling novelist Victoria Hislop joined us at the start of a nationwide tour promoting her new book, ’Those Who Are Loved'.
An audience of 150 gathered at Woodbridge Community Hall on the Wednesday lunchtime and listened attentively as Victoria explained her inspiration and investigation into modern Greek history for this latest story.
This is Victoria’s sixth novel. Each one has been a bestseller - she has some 10 million readers!
Her first book was 'The Island' set around a leper colony off the Greek mainland. This new book once again has an island as its central location.
“There’s usually a place that is a starting point for my books,” she said. “Seeing Makronisos from a distance was the keyhole that I looked through. I knew I wanted to get inside that room.”
Makronisos is an island near Athens. Now uninhabited, it was a detention centre for political prisoners from the 1940s to the 1970s.
Victoria first saw it 10 years ago, but was unable to visit until fairly recently, and then she knew she had to set her story there. She explores the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and the military dictatorship through the lives of one family, and one woman who is driven to fight for the communists as a result of her fury at the Nazi collaborators.
Through slides showing the island as it was, and as it is today, Victoria talked about the sombre and troubling research she carried out to write this book.
She acknowledged this book is darker than her previous novels. It is a history that many in Greece haven’t wanted to revisit. “They thought ‘why do we want to remember terrible things from the past?’ But people are beginning to think differently now.”
The Woodbridge audience was presented with a copy of the book with their entry to the event, and waited patiently in the long queue to have their books signed. Victoria chatted and listened as people shared their experiences and love of Greece, and their appreciation of her books.
This was Victoria's second visit for us. A couple of years ago, she launched her novel ‘Cartes Postales from Greece’ with us at Woodhall Manor, and she spoke fondly of that occasion. Family and friends who live in Suffolk also draw Victoria back here and her mother and sister were both in the audience this time. Victoria hopes that we'll make it a hat-trick of events as she's already working on another novel, also set in Greece. So in a couple of years she may be joining us again!
Read my interview with Victoria about 'Those Who Are Loved' here.