Those Who Are Loved

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

Another Victoria Hislop, Greek family historical saga. Lots of detail , takes place during WW2 and the communist uprising in Greece, not a topic I knew much about, detailing the divides between families as politics take over emotions.
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The story follows Themis,  and her life, loves, losses spanning from WW2 and the occupation of their country, through to the civil war and military junta.   It is a well researched novel, which helped me understand more about what is still a very difficult and recent history for Greece, with people who lived through all the impossible times,  some still alive and able to tell their stories.  I felt it was a bit slow to start, but the pace picked up and I was totally absorbed in the book right to the last page.  It did seem to gallop towards the end of the story a bit quickly and I would have enjoyed finding out a bit more about the recent years. But all in all, a good well written novel that has plenty of story, but also plenty to read and learn.
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Thanks to Netgalley the author and publishers for a copy of this book.  Great holiday read, I read her first “The Island” whilst on holiday and have struggled with others she has written. I was gripped by the historical aspect,initially set during the Nazi occupation during WW2 and the divisions brought to one family fiercely passionate about their individual politics and the freedoms they bring. The story that develops, follows Themis and her grandmother as they seek to keep the peace in this family, whilst suffering hardships, lack of food, separation from the rest of the family and the distress it causes.
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Hislop is very much back on form with this novel - it is a deep, complex family tale spanning just under 100 years of Greek family life.
I knew a lot of what happened to the Greeks during WW2 but the brutality of the country between 1945 and 1970ish was  mainly new to me and really eye opening. I had no idea how the partisans/Communists were treated post war, nor how repressive the later junta was.

I read this in Greece and found myself looking around with new eyes.
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I haven't read any of Hislop's books before, but wanted to give this a try because it piqued my interest.  The historical context was handled well, and I really enjoyed the story.
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Based on the war between the government army and the Democratic army in Greece we follow Themis and her family as they try to survive.
This is a beautiful, tender read and I loved the fact that the story is told in a way where Themis is relaying her story to her Grandkids. I love historical fiction and this seemed so original.
Ultimately a story about love and family and forgiveness this wonderful book really touched me.
I feel like the Greek War isn't really covered a lot and this provided great insight where I felt connected to the characters.
It's rather a heavy read and does take a little concentration to keep up with the plot but I found this a really enjoyable read!
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This is one of the most moving novels I’ve read for a long time. But it begins slowly and it was only at about the halfway stage that it really took off for me. And now I’ve come to write about it I’m finding it difficult to put into words just how exceptional I think it is. Whatever I write will not do it justice – it really is ‘an epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life‘.

It is historical fiction ‘set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.’

The main character is Themis Koralis/Stravidis (in Greek mythology Themis is the personification of fairness and natural law). In 2016 she is a great grandmother and realising that her grandchildren knew very little about Greek history she decided to tell them her life story, beginning from when she was a small child in the 1930s, through the German occupation of Greece during the Second World War, the civil war that followed, then the oppressive rule of the military junta and the abolition of the Greek monarchy, up to the present day.

As she grew up she and her brothers and sister had many disagreements, holding differing political opinions, which came to a head when the Germans invaded Athens in 1941.  Themis and her brother Panos joined the communist party in their fight against the Germans, whilst her other brother Thanasis and her sister Margarita opposed them, hating the communists’ views and believing that Germany was a friend of Greece, not a foe.

During the civil war Themis was imprisoned on the islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri. Her experiences were horrific, but only strengthened her determination to survive. On Makronisos she met Aliki, also a member of the communist party, and when Aliki is condemned to death, Themis promises to find and raise Aliki’s son, Nikos as her own.

During the early part of the book I felt it was rather like reading a history book. But then, the book sprang to life, the pace increased, and I was totally gripped and moved as history and fiction came together dramatically in glorious technicolor, telling the story of the characters personal lives and their parts in the action.

There is so much more to the story than I can mention here. And after the slow start I loved it, even though it is not a book I can say I ‘enjoyed’. It is a powerful and shocking story of remarkable characters faced with brutal and traumatic events. It has a completely convincing and vivid sense of location. I knew next to nothing about this period in Greek history before and I was astounded by what I learnt. 

Many thanks to the publishers, Headline Review, for my review copy via NetGalley.
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Victoria Hislop’s books have been a bit hit and miss for me in the past but I really enjoyed this epic saga of 20th century Greek history, politics and family life.

The story centres around Themis Koralis, the youngest daughter of an Athenian family, and it opens in the present day with Themis celebrating her birthday with her extended family. As she chats to her granddaughter and visiting American grandson, the story of her early life in pre-WW2 Athens emerges and carries on through the years spanning that war and the civil war that followed, which had an even more devastating effect on Themis and her family.

I learned a lot about Greek and European history, as Themis and her family are torn apart by fascist and communist loyalties, but also came to care about the characters through whose lives the story is told. Themis’ strict and devoutly right-wing brother Thanasis is a particularly intriguing and well developed character, as is her redoubtable grandmother Kyria Koralis who holds the family together when both parents are unable, for very different reasons, to look after their children. But it’s Themis herself, complex and conflicted, who drives the narrative and leads us through this complex and chaotic period in modern Greek history.

It may be history-lite in some people’s eyes, but this book is much more than a summertime beach read. It’s a fascinating, accessible and very readable insight into a country which still has its troubles today and I’m very glad to have had the opportunity (thanks to Netgalley) to have read it.
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On finishing Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop my initial reaction was WOW! It felt like a history lesson brought vividly to life.

The book follows Themis's life in Athens from childhood right up to old age. And what a life she lived, full of political turmoil and family disharmony. Right from the very start I took to Themis, she exudes intelligence, courage, and passion and I loved how bravely she walked the walk as well as talked the talk for what she believed in.

I learnt so much about the history of Greece from 1930, through their occupation during World War 2, and the constant changing of the political powers which meant that you never know who you could trust. Themis believed firmly in communism, and following her journey and watching her adeptly survive and thrive in the Communist Army was eye opening. But then she was captured and paid a heavy price for chasing after her dream of building a better Greece.

With so much fighting and political upheaval, this book put me through the emotional wringer. I cared so much about Themis and her family, and they suffered and suffered, and the pain reached through the pages and hit me hard. It really made me reflect on what I would give up for my beliefs. And it also portrayed how conflicted Themis felt at times, by what she was doing, and why she was doing it.

While I did pick up a lot of history from this book, it was never in a boring way. It weaves the facts into this family saga. And that together with a main character who held me spellbound meant my attention never wavered. It felt like a rollercoaster that swung from emotional to scary and my heart was pounding with fear at times. 

If you are looking for a character driven book with an AMAZING setting, and you enjoy historical fiction, well then don't miss out on this one. I have a strong feeling that it will be one of my favourite books of 2019.
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I found this book a fascinating insight into Greece during the Second World War and the civil war. The story, harrowing at times was compulsive reading about a time in  Greek history I knew little about. I did feel that the latter part of the book was slightly rushed considering the detail given to earlier parts. Overall I enjoyed this and would recommend.
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Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade. Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek. Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

Hislop is the master at creating stories around her characters, these characters are pure, beautiful perfection. Themis and her family are so realistic, they are likeable and hateable, I loved them and I fell out with them, most of all I felt everything with them. Getting to know them was a delight and following them through this traumatic read meant everything. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book but I am going to miss these superb characters more. 

Anyway, enough of an ode to the characters, I have to mention the other aspects that I loved about this book. Of course, we have a sublime setting of Greece in this, discovering the country through fresh eyes and learning about its history was fascinating and kept me gripped throughout. Hislop ties the past to the present through Themis and her family, if I am honest we do not need the present day sections, they are few and far between and do not really add anything to the book, following Themis throughout the turbulent times is enough. 

Then of course we have the plot, and what a stunning yet traumatic read this is. The plot had my whole heart from near the beginning and I was engrossed in discovering Themis' role in history. Hislop captures war-torn Greece spectacularly, both the thoughts of the characters and the physical trauma to the country, I was immersed in the dangerous world that Hislop evokes. Being set during the war, there are some very difficult scenes to read, they are incredibly well written but I was crying throughout and felt the pain of everyone involved. Hislop perfectly captures the history and feelings of everyone involved and I could not help but feel every word, but then what else should I expect from Hislop.

'Those Who Are Loved' is another evocative, heart-breaking and emotional read from Hislop. The setting is perfect, the history powerful and the characters memorable. This is a must read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Headline for an advance copy.
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I was not disappointed in Victoria's new novel.  Well written and atmospheric.  
I love Greece and her books are always so well written
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I always enjoy Victoria Hislop's books and this one is no exception. 'Those who are loved' gives a fascinating account of what it was like to live in Athens during the German occupation and see your family torn apart by different loyalties. There is no taking sides in this book as each character does what they feel is right, even if it means betraying their family. It is interesting that the book also deals with the Junta years under the Colonels when political loyalties of the past are once more brought to the fore. Hard to believe that one family can suffer so much and yet Themis and her brother find some kind of peace at the end.  Very well researched and a truly heart-breaking account of the daily life suffered by so many Greeks.
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Those who are loved is a novel set in Greece against the backdrop of civil unrest then occupation during the Second World War.
A great way to see how history affects families this story follows a Greek family though thick and thin, through family conflict  as siblings support opposing sides.. Desperate times lead to desperate actions and thus heart sending story of survival against the odds will make it's way into your head and heart as you read. Victoria Hislop has that rare gift of making history compelling and alive, and she has succeeded in doing this once again.
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I always enjoy Victoria Hislop's writing.  I also learn a lot about history that is missing from the history books in the UK.  She evokes the time and the place very beautifully.  Her characters feel like family.  This story of this Greek family is at times very harrowing, reflecting as it does war, distress and loss.  However,  it is also the story of human strength, resilience and love.  An excellent read.
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Set in Greece at the time of the German Occupation and the build up to the civil war.  Themis, as a 90 year old relates her story of survival to her grandchildren. Torn apart by the political differences within her family she joins the Communist  army where she experiences extremes of love and hate midst Greeks fighting Greeks. She ends up being imprisoned and exiled. A deeply felt storyline embedded in a rich history telling full of enlightenment for the reader. 
I did find the storytelling a little slow for my taste.hence the 3 stars
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Another hit for Victoria Hislop! A family saga whose main character is Themis. The story begins at her 90th birthday party in her small apartment in Athens. When the party winds up two of Themis’s grandchildren Popi and visiting American grandson Nikos stay to help with the clearing up. She takes them to a local cafe and tells them her story. What a story! It begins with her early childhood in the 1930s and takes us to the present day. As a child she lived in a small apartment with her sister and two brothers under the care of their grandmother. The family had very differing political views and there were many arguments and fights. Themis’s strong political beliefs inspired her to join the communists following first the occupation of Italy then Germany which was followed by a savage civil war from 1946 to 1949. She witnessed many awful, cruel incidents and eventually she was imprisoned. Only a very strong woman like Themis could survive the horrors and come back to raise a loving family whilst keeping her life secret to protect her and her family. As with all the Victoria Hislop books I have read so far I do find them hard going at the start. But all of a sudden I find I can’t put the book down and it’s been so worthwhile to persevere. Her knowledge of Greece and its history is admirable and I feel, again, like I’ve had a valuable history lesson. Highly recommend ‘Those who are loved’. Many thanks to netgalley for the early read.
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It's been quite a number of years since I have read a book by Victoria Hislop and I think it's because I didn't read raving reviews of her last two books but I wanted to try this new book and I was so glad I did. Now having finished her new book -Those Who Are Loved - I am reminded just how good an author she is. This book is an epic read that delves into the turbulent, tragic and difficult history of Greece.

I feel like I have been through a riveting, interesting and thought provoking history lesson. One where I barely left my Kindle out of my hands so caught up was I in the story. Yes at times it is a difficult read due to the grim and oppressive situations our main character finds herself in but it is also a very important, eye opening read. I had no idea as to the history of Greece, a country the author clearly has such a deep affection for given the care and sensitivity shown to the recollection of its past events but now I feel as if I have such a deep understanding of the fight for justice so many people endured for so long. I felt as if I was submerged into a time that was dangerous, threatening and destructive and the span of the novel although very wide ranging was needed in order to tell the incredible story that unfolded before my eyes.

Our main character Themis Stavridis is now in her 90's and as her family leave the celebration for her birthday, her young granddaughter and grandson remain and she decides to give them a gift. This gift is the story of her life and we follow her from 1930 right up until 2016 as she recollects a life filled with passion, fervour, danger, heartbreak but also loyalty to the cause she so strongly believes in. There were some fleeting moments where I questioned was the book too long? Was there too much detail? But when I read that final page I realised that every aspect of the story no matter how small or big was essential and the picture built up of a remarkable woman who sacrificed so much for the cause she so fervently believed in was all necessary to ensure a fascinating story was told in order to make this book the stunning read that it was.

We are introduced to Themis and her three siblings, Margarita, Panos and Thanasis, as their world is turned upside down. Their house literally crumbles and they are sent to life with their grandmother Kyria Koralis. Their father is away at sea and their mother becomes indefinitely ill. Kyria Koralis will go on to be the centre point of the family as does the apartment she lives in. Over the course of many years as we follow the family she becomes the matriarch their mother could never be. She is there at every juncture and as the bad times more often than not outweigh the good she supports her grandchildren. 

As the children grow older and the political and economic fortunes of the country go back and forth, a division emerges within the family with Themis and Panos on one side and Thanasis and Margarita on another. Their lives are in constant danger and as the country splits itself in two between the communists and their wish for democracy and liberation and those who wish for the King and a government to rule the factions between the siblings widen ever deeper. From the Nazi occupation during World War Two onwards we see various changes in power and with this the fortunes of the family change too. People can be killed for their beliefs but throughout all this Themis is a stand-out character who once she has formed opinions she never ever sways from this no matter how tough things get although there is so much sent to test her. Yes she questions herself but she remains solid in her viewpoint.

Themis was an incredible character who believed she knew what was best for her country and would do anything to help achieve this .Panos held the same views but I felt Margarita and Thanasis were too enshrined in the wrong way of thinking and they seemed to follow the crowd when it came to mass opinions. Following the departure of the Germans, Greece experienced its own civil war and to be honest I had no clue about any of this and at this stage the story could have felt like I was reading a boring history book that I was being made to study for an exam. Thankfully this wasn't the case at all and instead the book began to take me on an ever more vivid and interesting journey than it had up until that point. The author never shied away from the hardships endured by a family that we follow for so many years that become bitterly divided by politics. They are but a small cog in the wheel but are determined to play their part. Themis knows she cannot stand by as what she has witnessed should never have happened. The loss of a close friend will always be the inspiration that spurs her on in the fight for justice and equality and no matter how far away that goal may seem she constantly strives to reach it.

Perhaps the most powerful and shocking scenes were those when Themis leaves the family home to enlist with the communists in order to fight. She has yearned for liberation for so long and has had enough of repression. She believes people cannot struggle on the way they have and that if she can play any part at all in achieving the long term goal than she will do so. Not only does the conflict in Greece change the family but also do the ravages of time and this is highlighted when Themis is captured. The chapters set during this time were difficult to read and to be honest if I really took the time to sit and observe everything that was befalling her I might have had to stop reading for quite some time. Everything she endured was horrific and to think it really did happen to so many people not that long ago is unbelievable and hard to swallow. But throughout it all Themis is a stalwart, never swaying from her beliefs or convictions. The thuggery, torture, deprivation and brutality she witnessed and endured would have made anyone else sway in their opinions but she held strong. The pain from everyone involved in this story just bounced off the pages right into the heart and mind of this reader and I am sure the same will be said by anyone who picks up this book. I felt I was there right along side Themis as she partakes in a test of endurance that would either shatter her or make her. When she makes the ultimate decision I did not judge her for it because circumstances had changed and she knew she would wrestle with this choice for the remainder of her life.

I enjoyed how the latter half of the book took on a different tone and though initially I thought this seems like I am reading a separate story I then realised how cleverly everything was being woven together. The political situation in Greece played out amidst a family saga and it turned into an utter triumph of a novel for the author. Themis herself experiences many internal and external conflicts as she questions why am I doing this but I loved seeing the inner strength emerge from her core. She placed herself in danger numerous times over and the one promise she made to someone who did something so loyal for her would never ever be broken. As the family dynamics changed over the many years this story encapsulates it demonstrated how the past will always have a bearing on the present and that people can mould, adapt and change but when one makes the ultimate sacrifice for what they truly believe is right they must live with those choices and their repercussions.

Those Who Are Loved was a brilliant read written with such tenderness, care and respect for the subject matter and the people of Greece. Their history deserves to be told and Victoria Hislop has done so with tact and balance as she showed how the schism between right and left deepened and widened and polarised families, neighbourhoods and cities. When Themis finishes recalling her story just as her two grandchildren sit back and attempt to absorb and comprehend everything they have heard I did the same. It was almost like I let go of the breath I had been holding for much of the story. My eyes had been opened to a Greece I never knew existed and the image we all have of a sun filled country belies its oppressive and destructive past.

I wouldn't say this is a book that is enjoyable simply because of the subject matter, and really this is not the correct word to use, but it certainly is a book that you must read. In the brief end notes there is an explanation behind the name Themis - in Greek mythology it meant fairness and natural law and the symbol was the scales of justice. A more apt name could not have been chosen for an incredible character who will remain with you long after you have read the final page. In my mind, Those Who Are Loved is a superb return to form for Victoria Hislop and long may it continue.
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the author doesn't disappoint with the latest novel based from 1930's to modern day in Greece following  a womans journey from childhood to old age and charting her family's progress through WW2, civil war and military junta. the book seems to be well researched in the historical aspects and the family dynamics also help in the early part of the novel to really work to have conflicting ideas.
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I’ve read and enjoyed a number of Victoria’s books but I’m afraid that this isn’t one of my favourites. I learned a lot about Greece that I didn’t know before. I was quite shocked at how recent some of the events were. 
The book also demonstrates how there are no easy answers when it comes to conflicts. One man’s terrorist............
Even so, I found some parts of the book more like a lecture than a novel.  I’ve no problem with being educated but at time this seemed like a recitation of facts. 
My thanks to Netgalley, the author sand the publishers for this copy.
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