Cover Image: Burning Island

Burning Island

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Member Reviews

This is a book set in two time periods on the Greek island of Corfu. In the present day we meet Amber and James who are have left the London rat race behind and have dreams of a new life running a restaurant on Corfu. The past is 1943 when Jewish father Isaac must make a heartbreaking decision in order to save his young daughters Anna and Mathilde.
I much preferred the past thread in this book. In fact I think I would have preferred a complete historical novel with more detail and a fuller story. In this book there are large gaps in the story and I would love to know more about what happened with these young girls. I would also have been interested in more detail about the persecution of the Jews in Corfu and their lives - how exactly did Corfu get to the point of being occupied with the Jewish discrimination & collaborating officials?
The thread running in the present day starts well but I felt it started to come apart somewhere around the middle of the book. James makes some bad business decisions & mixes with people that leave Amber apart. In some ways James has a complete character change and becomes a not very nice person. The end of this story is quite surprising with some major and unexpected actions by people resulting in deaths. The ending came very abruptly with lots of action in the last few chapters which weren't well constructed previously leaving them very unexplained.
This book could have given much more. I wanted more historical detail and the gaps filled in in the 1940s thread. In the present I wanted the ending to fit the characters that had been created. The plot and characters needed much better construction with an ending which fitted well. In all it was a bit disappointing.
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.
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I was given a copy of the burning island by Suzanne Goldring by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The book is set the 1944 and in 2006. The book is set in Corfu, Amber and James move there to set up a new business. In 1944 a couple take on 2 Jewish children to keep them safe when the rest of there family are rounded up by the Germans. I liked most of the characters and the storyline was set a a good pace. The chapters were short, so would be a great holiday read but i did find the story did jump around a little to much for my liking but don't let that put you off, it was still a great dtory. Perfect for fans of historical fiction.
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Oh yes this is definitely my type of read.  I just loved this book and will be reading more by this author,
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I always knew that Suzanne Goldring would have difficulty topping the brilliance of her first book "My Name is Eva" and any others would just be a shadow of that one. BURNING ISLAND is her second and, whilst I did end up enjoying it, the story wasn't nearly as compelling as her previous offering.

1944: Isaac and Perla Nikorkiris, along with their daughter Rebekka, live a quiet life in the Jewish quarter of Corfu Town. However, for the past few years they have kept the existence of their two youngest daughters secret and not registered their births, keeping them hidden in an effort to keep them safe. Now they have a difficult choice to make. The Germans are making noises around town that the Jewish residents will soon be leaving the island and Isaac and Perla have a plan in place for the youngest girls to be taken to a safe place to be be kept hidden. A middle-aged childless couple, Agata and Georgiou, are willing to put themselves in danger to look after the girls and keep them safe until the war is over.

The following morning, five year old Matilde and two year old Anna awake confused with no idea where they are or where their parents and Rebekka are. Agata explains that they have been sent to live with them while their parents and Rebekka go to work for the Germans, and that after the war they will return and be reunited with them. The girls are malnourished and have a sickly pallor from never having been outside for fear of discovery by the Germans. Agata endeavours to fatten them up with good clean air, sunshine and plenty of wholesome food from their land.

The coastal cottage where the girls now live with Agata and Georgiou is far from town and prying eyes. They will not be discovered there...but should any stranger happen by, Agata shows the girls a very special hiding place where no one will ever discover them, making an adventure out of it. But they still miss their parents and Rebekka and sometimes cry at night for them. Agata comforts the girls as she would her own, singing them to sleep or telling them stories. Within days it is clear the girls are happy, playing outside in the fresh air and sunshine and soon begin to look healthier.

While their little haven remains secret Agata knows it is only a matter of time before their little cottage is discovered, as Germans continue to scour the island for Jews who may have slipped through their net. Then when a stranger appears on their beach one having been swimming, the couple are spooked and decide to relocate the girls to an even more remote area...high in the mountains.

2006: Amber and her husband have left their old lives behind in cold and miserable London for the warmer climes of Corfu, filled with hopes and dreams of starting their own business. They stay with friends while searching for the perfect location and meeting some interesting characters along the way who assist in making their dreams a reality. When they come across the perfect mountain hideaway that will be their home, plans are soon put in motion to restore the existing building and extending it into a restaurant and a bed and breakfast.

During the building phase, James spends more time with the two men who have helped make this dream possible - Greg and Dimitri. Without their invaluable knowledge and assistance, Mountain Thyme would never have come to fruition. But James keeps their discussions secret from Amber, without confiding in her the extent of Greg and Dimitri's involvement.

When Amber falls pregnant, James is anything but pleased. This moment that is to be savoured and enjoyed is dampened by his relentless need to build his reputation and put Mountain Thyme on the map as a sought after place. He is furthered bothered by the fact that the baby is due around the beginning of August, at the height of their summer season, which will further inconvenience him. I could have honestly slapped him for his lack of feeling and sensitivity! Of course, Amber's pregnancy made her excessively hot, particularly when summer arrived, prompting him to sleep in one of the spare rooms if there wasn't a guest booked in. Failing that, he then began to spend the nights at Greg's place, leaving Amber alone in their remote mountain view home.

Whilst James explores business opportunities with Greg and Dimitri, Amber befriends two women - Marian and Inge - who run a couple of quaint shops on the island specialising in rustic items from furniture to pottery, with which they intend to furnish their new home and business. During her visits with the women, Amber learns how Inge came to own the shop and the story behind the couple who bequeathed it to her when they passed.

As Amber listened to the stories Inge related to her, she finds herself drawn to the stories of decades ago when the couple helped hide two little girls from the Germans during World War 2, and those of the Jewish people living in Corfu during the war. Inge's passion for the forgotten Jewish people of the island is reflected in her desire to educate tourists about them at the gate of the Old Fort, where the thousands of Corfiot Jews were gathered in the days before they were shipped off the island in barges...in the foolish belief they were going to work for the Germans. Instead their 27 day journey to Auschwitz was long and without food or water bringing death to most and those who did survive were merely destined for the gas chamber.

Told over dual timelines, BURNING ISLAND is a captivating read although the 1944 time period was far more absorbing and I would have liked that story to have featured more prominently. As it was, it was Amber and James' story that was main storyline and in parts was a little too repetitive. I wasn't particularly interested in the life and times of Amber and James as they built their dream only to end up at each other's throats. It wasn't until about halfway through when Amber finally hears the stories of the Corfiot Jews and the of Matilde and Anna, and the threads begin to pull together. The plight of the Jews and the inhumane journey to Auschwitz was both fascinating and heartbreaking that just pulled at your heartstrings. The final chapter for 1944 had me shedding bucket loads. And yet the final chapter of Amber and James' story was somewhat anti-climatic.

I said at the beginning that I didn't find BURNING ISLAND as compelling as "My Name is Eva" . This is true. Although both books are completely different, I guess I was expecting something just as breathtaking and as brilliant as the author's previous offering.

I think my biggest issue with this book was that it was promoted as historical fiction about the fate of two little girls in Corfu in 1944 when in actual fact the primary story was that of James and Amber in 2006. I felt kind of ripped off that it wasn't as much a historical read as I had hoped but more of a contemporary one with threads of the historical story woven throughout.

Another issue I had was at the height of the season that James was so bothered with being inconvenienced with the birth of their baby, when it came down to it, there were no guests in their bed and breakfast at that time and Amber was left alone on the burning mountainside about to give birth! Wasn't his gripe being that it was at the height of the tourist season? And yet there were no tourists booked in! It didn't make sense that their bed and breakfast was completely empty at the end of July when it would normally be at its busiest.

Another gripe was the dates were all wrong. The premise had the story taking place in 1943 and 2016. The historical date could be forgiven with being just a year out but the later storyline was nowhere near 2016, but rather 2006 through to 2009. Little things like that make me wonder if those who wrote the premise or even the reviews had actually read the book, as they all pretty much quote those same dates.

But...having said that, BURNING ISLAND is a moving story underneath, which is both poignant and heartbreaking. I just wish Matilde and Anna, and the plight of the Jews had been a more prominent storyline and not a secondary plot. The Historical Note at the end was incredibly emotional and had me shedding even more tears.

Overall, I do love Suzanne Goldring's writing and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

I would like to thank #SuzanneGoldring, #NetGalley and #Bookouture for an ARC of #BurningIsland in exchange for an honest review.
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Burning Island by Suzanne Goldring

Matilda and Anna, two children taken from their home in the middle of the night to be hidden away from the Nazis.  Heartbreaking for their parents and older sister, who had no choice but to let them go so they would be safe. 
From 1944 to 2007, the story follows the sisters lives as they are kept hidden by two very loving people. This is 3 stories woven into one telling of the horror of World War 2 taking place in Corfu. 
I was given an ARC from NetGalley and Bookouture and Suzanne Goldring for an honest review.
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Dual timelines that are woven together, this story is both heartbreaking and captivating.  The author is a master storyteller with authentic characters.  I had a hard time putting this down and it will stay with me for a while.   
Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I will start by saying this synopsis is incredibly misleading - it leads one to believe that the premise of this book revolves around the two little girls in 1943 Corfu that are hidden by a Greek family as their sister and parents are forcibly taken from the island. However, there is a series of short (yet powerful) flashbacks from the sister and parent's POVs as they are first left to stay in the Old Fort for 5 days, and then transported by barge and then train to camps in the East ... and that's about it. 

The actual story revolves around Amber & James, a present day married couple that leaves their dreary & hectic lives of London behind as they make the decision to move to Corfu and open a bed & breakfast. The rest of the story is a weird melodrama domestic thriller of sorts? With shadowy figures and double crosses and secrets (none of which have to do with the past day story, mind you)? I was left really underwhelmed at the end of the present day storyline.

I wish that the author had separated these two stories completely - the past storyline had such promise and was so interesting and well written, and the present day storyline would have been more compelling with the complete omission of the past flashbacks.

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, & Hachette for the opportunity to read and review this book before it's publication date! This in no way affected my review, opinions are my own.
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In 1944 the Jews of Corfu are gathered together ready for deportation. One family has sent their younger children to live with another family. Can any of them survive the Naiz Final Solution?
In the present day, James and Amber have left their high powered and highly stressful careers to start up a restaurant and hotel in Corfu but can they find the peace and contentment they are looking for?
Burning Island is written from 4 perspectives, James and Amber in the present, and Rebekka and her sisters in the past.
I was quite annoyed with James for his increasing selfishness which drives a wedge between him and his wife. His cameraderie with Greg and their immaturity and campaign against a local hotel are unpleasant and chilldish. Amber is a much more sympathetic character, friendly and kind to the locals and trying to keep her marriage happy.
I admit to feeling a little frustrated as I found the historical part of the book much more important than the parts in the present day, but they only accounted for a third or less of the actual book. The tragedy of Rebekka’s experience and her hopes for her sisters make this a highly emotional book and an excellent reminder never to let the atrocities of the Nazis be forgotten, nor the heartbreaking stories of barbarity and bravery.
The Corfu atmosphere is beautifully evoked in Suzanne Goldring’s rich narrative. The historical note at the end adds a poignancy and realism to the tragedy which is mentioned but not openly discussed: the forced deportation of the island’s Jews which resulted in almost all dying on the journery or being sent straight to the gas chambers. It is a horrifying reminder of the grotesque aspect of humanity but the glimmer of hope still shines as represented in the book by the Greek couple Georgiou and Agata saving two members of the Jewish family.
The ending is rather abrupt but then we also discover the tragic outcome for Rebekka when she arrives in Auschwitz. Overall, this is a terrible, wonderful read.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

Underwhelmed. The contemporary narrative, alternating between British couple, James and Amber killed the story for me. A shame since the historical timeline which sheds a light on the destruction and deportation of the Jewish community of Corfu was very interesting. I really would have liked it if the author had told us more about that than all the melodrama that occurs in 2007.


Goodreads review published 08/02/20
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This is a fascinating book. I found it hard to put it aside. It is a novel set in the Mediterranean furing WWII and also the present day. I have read many historical fiction novels set during WWII and this is among the best. I would reccomend this book to anyone who reads historical fiction.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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With two timelines and stories, the author creatively takes us back and forth from 1944 Corfu to Corfu in the 2007-2008 time period.  Amber and James move to Corfu to escape their hectic, type A lifestyles, hoping to open a restaurant,  James gets caught up with the wrong people.  Rebekka , her mother and father, are rounded up by the Nazis in Corfu, but not before sending their two little daughters to safety with a loving local couple.  The story of this family provides depth to the novel.  Uncovering another part of history enriches the reading of this book,, recommended.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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I greatly enjoyed reading this novel! It was a unique work of historical fiction. The setting is a Greek island towards the end of WWII with a dual story line in modern times. I enjoyed the modern story line just as much (if not more). An interesting story full of suspense, surprises and heartbreak. 

Thank you, Bookouture and NetGalley for a digital ARC!
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One of the best historical novels I have read lately (and I have read quite a few), I found the subject matter to be fascinating. When people think of WWII, Corfu does not immediately jump to mind, but the Nazi reach did extend to the Mediterranean. The author does a great job of relaying the historical aspects while also weaving a contemporary plotline in; the two stories dovetail nicely. The author handles a difficult subject with a deft hand. I highly recommend this 5-star book. For a full review, please visit my blog at Fireflies and Free Kicks. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for a digital ARC of this book.
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A thrilling read by Suzanne Goldring comparable to those written by Victoria Hislop. Corfu past and present, a young couple James and Amber, with a dream of creating a new life for themselves arrive on the island with the intention of setting up a restaurant. Difficulties and issues arise and their relationship is tested.

For me the second part of the story detailing the Nazi occupation of the island in 1944 and the round up of the Jewish population was of the most interest.  It is little talked about compared with other Nazi atrocities and the author does great justice to those affected.

I found myself gripped by the storyline and couldn’t put the book down.  I did feel the end of the book was a bit neatly concluded but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it.

Thank you to the author and Bookouture publishing for an ARC of this book.
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I read Suzanne Goldring’s first book, My Name is Eva, and loved it, so I was excited to read Burning Island. First, let me say that both books have beautiful covers! My genre of choice is WW II fiction and I usually enjoy dual timeline stories. I think this book would have been better to have left out present day Amber and her husband’s story and just told the story of Matilde and Anna Nikorkiris. I thought the author brought forth another aspect of how widespread the Nazis were during the war. I did not realize that they were on Corfu. What pain and what love Matilde’s and Anna’s parents had to be able to leave these little girls with Agatha and her husband in a remote part of the island.  I did shed tears many times. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for an ARC in exchange for an honest review,
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I will be the only one I think that was not blown away by this book. But I was struggling with finishing this story as the characters and the story felt so disjointed due to the changes in time and places from the 1940s to 2000s.
The story starts with Jews running from Nazis on Corfu and how they deal with that. Two sisters are being hidden, so they would not be taken and killed. They are taken care of by A woman which gives them the possibility to survive.
Amber moved to Corfu with her husband and want to start their new life and business there. But when some things will be brought back to the surface and not everyone will like it.
I thought that those two parts would connect somehow in a more important way, but... Nothing like that. To me, if this story would only concentrate on sisters' stories during and after WWII it would be much better.
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A beautifully written story about the relatively unknown fate of Greek Jews in WW2. 
1944 the Germans decide to deport the Jewish community of Corfu to Auschwitz. Rebekah's parents have arranged a Greek couple to hide their two youngest daughters before the Germans find them.
The story then takes us to a young couple who have dreams of running a restaurant in Corfu.
The story flits between the two decades but in a flowing manor. Between the pages we see different aspects of prejudice, love, committment and true friendship.
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A real heartbreaker of a novel. I had not read previously about the Jews of Corfu and I found their story to be riveting. The modern narrative was a little less interesting than the historic one and the connection between the two eras was, perhaps, less organic than in some other dual timeline novels I’ve read. Still, it was a very engaging story and I would certainly recommend it to fans of the genre.
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A heart wrenching story told in two periods of time. Back in 1944 when Corfu was invaded by the Nazis and the jews of the Island are taken. Then a story of Amber and her husband set recently who move to Corfu to escape the rat race of London. I loved the historical fiction part of this story - another horrific part of history I was not aware of. Sadness, bravery and brutality as a family is torn apart. The story of Amber and James is enjoyable and the writing evocative with the scenes, scents and beauty of Corfu. You can almost feel the heat radiating out of the story. I found the two stories a little disjointed but enjoyed the book.
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley.

Burning Island is a historical fiction novel.     The story is told in both present day and WWII, which is a style of writing I really do enjoy.   

The story is powerful and beautiful.     If you're a fan of historical fiction, definitely read this book.
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