Thursday, 9 March 2017

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson


Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson
Published: 9th March 2017 (ebook)
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 400
Available on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Can you escape your past in paradise?

'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.

Review
Island of Secrets is the debut novel by Patricia Wilson which is set mostly in the Crete village of Amiras, where Patricia once lived. The novel is based on real stories from real women who lived through the unease of the Nazi occupation of the island in1943.

The story tells the history of three generations of women from one family. Angelika is planning her wedding and longs for her mother Poppy to be reunited with her Creteian relatives whom she fled from many years ago. With Poppy unwilling to reveal the secrets of her past to her daughter, Angelika sets out on a pilgrimage to Crete to meet her relatives and to try and heals the wounds in the family. When Angie meets her maternal grandmother Maria she begins to find out the family history as Maria begins to divulge the secrets she would have otherwise taken to the grave.

I found this an incredibly moving story to read, in parts I was in tears as Maria retold her story, the horror and fear which she felt was portrayed in such detail, I was hooked. Patricia Wilson has done a brilliant job in creating vivid and sometimes horrific scenes which have truly brought this story to life for me and are sure to pull at your heart strings as they did mine.

Books with a duel narrative are a particular favourite of mine when the past mixes with the present and Island of Secrets has done this wonderfully. The narrative takes two forms as Maria tells her story of the past and Angelika makes her own discoveries in the present, both strands intertwine perfectly to create a cohesive and compelling story. I loved how the towards the end there were many surprising twists, the last third of the book I couldn’t put down as I was desperate to work out all the mysteries which had come to light.

The three main characters in this book are Angelika, Poppy and Maria, all are strong resourceful women. Poppy and Maria have had had periods of great difficulty in their lives but have not given up because of the amount of love they have for their children. Angelika first appears to be a little bit more selfish as she determined to have her Greek relatives at her wedding despite her mother begging her to leave the past alone and she also seems very quick to judge the actions of fiancĂ© Nick in a negative light a little too often. As she hears Maria’s story she begins to realise her faults and begins to be a more thoughtful and empathetic individual. When this change occurs it’s easy to see she has the same love and resourcefulness as Maria and Poppy.

As with most stories featuring Greek families there are many more family members and these all add to the depth of the story. My two favourites were the bubbly and slightly aloof Voula and her grumpy husband Matthia, dialogue between these two often made me smile and brought some lighter moments to this book.

Island of Secrets is a book full of raw emotions, family vendettas, hidden secrets and three very strong women. It’s a book I enjoyed very much and one which fans of Victoria Hislop and Debbie Rix are sure to enjoy.

I’d like to thank the publishers Bonnier Zaffre for recommending this book to me and sending me a copy to review. I look forward to read Patricia Wilson’s next novel sometime in the future.

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