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.
This wasn't a book I was asked to review. I bought this and downloaded it to kindle because it was set in Crete and I was going there on holiday. I started it on the plane and finished it a day later.
In present day London Angie is preparing for her wedding to Nick. Angie's mum, Poppy left her home and family in Crete thirty years ago but Angie wants to re-connect with them and invite all her Cretan family to her wedding. Against her mother's wishes Angie travels to Almeria in Crete to find her grandparents.
The next part of the story takes place in Crete where Maria, Angie's grandmother tells her the story of her life and what happened in Almeria during the Second World War.
Oh my goodness, how do I describe this book? It broke my heart and I cried. I had no idea of what had taken place in Crete during the war,it was so cruel and needless and the story was not always an easy read.
Although this was the background of the story the author has cleverly weaved lots of sub plots through the book. I thought I had guessed one but I was completely wrong. There were many twists and turns, secrets and revelations.
All through the book I felt I was there with Maria. I felt her fear and her pain. The descriptions of the surrounding countryside were vivid and well written.
I think reading this in Crete although at the other end of the island from Almeria made the story even more poignant. Perhaps it wasn't the light holiday reading I should have choose but I understood better why the people are so proud of their island, they have fought hard for it. I looked differently at the places we visited and at the many old people I saw dressed in black clothes and I wondered.
I cried happy tears at the ending and felt a sense of loss at not having the book to read anymore.
My favourite author is Victoria Hislop and now debut author Patricia Wilson is up there with her.
I want to tell you the whole story. I want to discuss with you what parts made me cry, I want to tell you what I thought was going to happen and didn't, but I also want you to read it the way I did and find out for yourself.
After finishing the book I felt compelled to Google the village in the story where it all happened and I was stunned to discover that all facts about the village during the war are true. The author Iives in Almeria in Crete and found an army rifle while digging in her garden. She spoke about it to the older women in the village and they told her their story. These brave women should all have been given medals for what they had to live through and the British Government should hang their heads in shame for turning a blind eye to what was happening. (Google it after reading and find out)
I can't believe this book is only 98p for kindle, Patricia Wilson deserves so much more for this debut novel and I eagerly await her next book.
Island of Secrets... 98p for kindle and £2.99 for paperback.