Tuesday 11 July 2017

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson @pmwilson_author @BonnierZaffre

'The story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .'

All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother's secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.

Angie's estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms - it's time to unburden herself, and tell the story she'll otherwise take to her grave.

It's the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it's the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson was published in paperback by Bonnier Zaffre on 18 May 2017, and is the author's debut novel.

I don't think it's much of a secret that I am a massive Greekophile - I love all things Greek and when my copy of Island of Secrets dropped through my letterbox I knew that this would be the perfect book to take away on holiday with me.  I read it during my two weeks in Corfu last month, OK it's not Crete, but it is Greece!

This is a dual-time story, set in the modern-day and during World War 2, and this is another reason why this book appealed to me so much; I love this type of story.

Angie Kondulakis has spent her life in London, raised by single-mother Poppy. Her Greek heritage is apparent, yet she has never met her family back in Crete, and Poppy never speaks about them, or why she left the island. Angie is about to be married and dearly wants her Greek relations to share her day. Poppy cannot even bring herself to consider such a thing, and Angie, quite irrationally, decides the only way forward is to fly to Crete herself, and confront her family.

Once there, she discovers that her name is well-known, and when she finally meets her grandmother Maria, she feels as though she is home.

For me, it was Maria's story and Maria's voice that shone throughout this book. Whilst I understand that the author wanted her readers to know about Maria and Poppy, and their life in London, there were times when I just wanted to know about Maria and her story of the Nazi invasion of Crete during the war.

What a story this is! Based on true stories, collected by the author, and told to her by elderly women from small Cretan villages, the horrors and devastation struck by the German army is almost impossible to comprehend. This is a savage, violent and tragic story, told with passion and empathy. The author does not gloss over the terrible events that happened, or the long-term effects on the people of Crete.

As the title implies, this is a story that is interwoven with secrets. Some of these are hurtful and horrifying, some of them have been twisted, and some of them are untrue. As Maria learns more about her family, and her mother, she also becomes a victim of long-time feuds and long-held memories.

Despite being a fan of dual-time narratives, I personally could have done without Angie's story. I felt that Maria's memories were far more compelling and the writing seemed to flow far better during those parts. However, I really did enjoy Island of Secrets and have gone on to recommend it to my friends and I will certainly look forward to reading more from this author.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

After running her own business for twenty years, Patricia took early retirement and moved to the Greek island of Crete.

When she dug up a rusted machine gun in her garden, and the inhabitants of her remote mountain village came with local stories of tragedy and triumph, she knew she had to tell their account of what really happened in September 1943, which became ISLAND OF SECRETS.

Patricia now lives on the island of Rhodes where she is researching and writing her second novel.

Author website: www.pmwilson.net
Twitter: pmwilson_author

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