This entry is dedicated to Ms. Victoria Hislop, world-known writer of the Island, the Return and the recent marvel which is the Thread.
I have just returned from the presentation of Ms. Hislop’s book the Thread.
The bookstore’s large room was unsurprisingly full. After all, this is the woman who made thousands of men, women and children all over the world but more so in Greece and Cyprus- weep at the hardship and trouble that overwhelmed her heroes in the Island. The book’s impact on the Greek culture is undeniable. Yet it was the Greek culture that sparked the writing of the book, Ms. Hislop confessed today.
A slim woman, with rich brown hair and the boldness to sport a red top with a matching red lipstick and a set of captivating, greenish eyes. The same pair of eyes that unearthed the stories of Spinalonga, Crete and now of Thessaloniki in the 20th century.
She blew the audience’s mind when she read aloud, an excerpt from the Thread in perfect Greek. Her voice soft and steady. Sure she may have rehearsed this before, but only someone who can speak Greek can understand the magnitude of her courage to read in Greek. In front of so many people. Her fans, people who admire her work were eager, hungry for more. Next to her at all times was the director of Greek-Cypriot publishing house Dioptra Publishing. I couldn’t help but ask him later about the present situation of publishing in Greece. “It’s difficult,” he confessed. “But we promote and support all of our authors.”
The question of what gave rise to the story that unfolds in the Thread was inevitable and at the forefront of the presentation.
“This is a book of love, of hope and of hard, difficult situations. Situations we didn’t have to face in England,” she acknowledged in a calm but decisive voice. In perfect Greek.
Ms. Hislop’s love for her new book was evident in between the statements she made. Not so much by the amount of words she spoke, but by her choice of words.
“It is about a patient love, a story of love and survival,” she revealed, careful not to spoil the thrill.
Her grandeur was oozing by her humble, simplicity. This is a woman who has sold over two million copies of her books and yet she was honest enough to admit that she spends countless hours alone in lieu of her writing and has more friends in Greece than anywhere else in the world.
A couple of years back, when I heard about this English writer who wrote about Spinalonga, about Greece I thought “How dare she? How can a non-Greek encapsulate the complexity that surrounds the Greek psyche and do it so well to convince millions of people about it, too?” That is how much I knew. And then I read the Island. And then I knew.
Thank you Ms. Hislop for writing about the Greek psyche. Thank you for your boldness to show that history isn’t only what we learn at school. Thank you for making Greece proud of its honorable past and present (the TV production of the Island by MEGA channel was a masterpiece) and for making the world take notice about the real Greece. Not the mutilated nation that features in the Economist and the Financial Times known only for its debt crisis. But the nation that gave birth to democracy, to philosophy, to hospitality, to kindness, to wit, to literature and love.
Note to readers:
Buy the Thread. Read the Thread. Learn about the real Greek culture.
Note to Ms. Hislop:
My eyes did well up with tears when I heard you read in Greek. Now I’ll think of this when I read the Thread and I foresee using up a lot of tissues!