On my nightstand at the moment is The Island by British novelist Victoria Hislop. Set in the years before WW2 on the island of Crete, it follows the lives and loves of the Petrakis family who live in the tiny village of Plaka. A stone’s throw away across the water is the island of Spinalonga, the final stop for those poor unfortunates who contract the dreaded disease of leprosy.
The book has it’s share of characters who we’ve all met before — the beautiful, selfish daughter who marries for money, the kind-hearted duty bound daughter, the long suffering father, etc. It becomes unique, and fascinating, when leprosy touches the lives of the family and the mother, Eleni must go live on Spinalonga, leaving behind her family and life in Plaka. I was so intrigued with what life must have been like on Spinalonga for the lepers, knowing that life went on in their villages without them, condemned to live isolated on an island from which they could still see the daily activities of Plaka.
Though well written and interesting, the book ultimately left me a bit disappointed. I wanted more of life on Spinalonga, and less of the soap opera in Plaka involving adultery, murder and family secrets. On the up side, it did inspire me to Google Spinalonga, look at pictures of the actual island, and learn more about it in that way.