Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Books 39 & 40 of 2015: The Island by Victoria Hislop & The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel

The first of this week's two books is a Reading Challenge book, Week 21 called for a book your mum loves. My Mum gave me two suggestions and I picked up The Island by Victoria Hislop on my Kindle.

It's the story of two communities; a small Greek town and the island not far from its shore which houses a leper colony. It follows four generations of women from the Petrakis family; beginning with Alexis Fielding's trip to Crete as she wishes to learn something of her family's past; travelling back to the life of her great-grandmother, Eleni, and the events that tore the family apart.

I can see why my Mum loves this book. It's one of those fairly gentle stories which ebbs and flows as it documents the lives of the Petrakis women. It makes for one of those books that you just don't really want to put down. I'd be reading a chapter or two and everything was gently plodding along, then suddenly a spanner would fall into the works for them and it'd be another three chapters before I could turn the light off.

I really did feel sorry for the Petrakis family. They seriously had nothing but bad luck. It seemed like every time there was some turn up; like a change in the treatment for leprosy, things didn't quite work out for them. Of course, things do work out for them in the end, but it took an awfully long time to get there and that's not much of a consolation given all the bad stuff that happened.

The setting of Spinalonga was really interesting, more so for knowing it was a real place. I love books that you can read and then clearly picture the place it was set. Because Spinalonga is a real place, I was able to then go and look up photos of it online and it was cool to see that the way I was imagining the jetty and the streets was very similar to the way it really looked.

At the end of my copy of this book there is a preview of another Victoria Hislop book; this one also has a Greek setting, this time a hotel and it did sound good, though it didn't grab me the way that the beginning of The Island did. I can definitely see myself going back and rereading The Island and I'll probably pick up more Victoria Hislop books if I see them.

I think that this week's challenge was one of my favourite ones of the whole year as well, along with the book recommended by friend, because it gave me an opportunity to talk books with my Mum and find out which books are among my Mum's favourites. I'm yet to read the other one she suggested (The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks) but it's on my list to pick up some time.

After reading The Island I returned to my reread of the Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel, going on to the third one in the series; The Mammoth Hunters. This one sees Ayla and Jondalar meeting the people of Lion Camp and spending time with them. This enables Ayla to learn a little about the culture of her own people and to teach them a little about the Clan people she lived with before. But the experience leaves her torn between a life with Jondalar or a life with the first tribe to accept her.

It took me a while to get through this book, so I was a bit late starting my following week's challenge. I've still not made it on to the next book, The Plains of Passage, though it's about two or three along my current To-Read list. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it; I think after The Clan of the Cave-Bear this is my favourite one. Like the first book in the series it's introducing the reader to a new culture and I enjoy that.

I find the Lion Camp really interesting and I liked the way that they accepted Ayla, despite all of Jondalar's fears about what they'd think of her past. It made Jondalar look pretty shallow and I found the Jondalar/Ayla/Ranec love triangle a little bit tiresome. Jondalar annoyed me so much that a fair way through the book I was just wanting Ayla and Ranec to get together.

I think that perhaps a more interesting turn of the story would be for Ayla and Ranec to hook up and then perhaps in a future book go off to meet his mother's people; they could maybe have run into some Clan people along the way. Jondalar could've returned to his own people and perhaps taken a member of the Lion Clan back with him if Auel was that desperate to continue writing the character. Ayla and Jondalar could've been reunited in the future somehow and just been friends or hooked up once Jondalar had grown up a little.

I suspect my feelings towards Jondalar are the reason I keep on putting off reading the next book.

I'd also really like to know what's going on with Durc back at the Clan. I liked the link between Rydag and the Clan but it made me wonder how Durc was getting on amongst the people Ayla left behind. I would really like to know how Durc got on growing up.


  1. I love both these books - The Island I read quite recently (in the past five years!) but Jean M. Auel I discovered during my A levels in the school library and these books have always held a place in my heart ever since :)

    1. I think The Island is a great summer read. And Jean M. Auel was introduced to me by my Grampy with The Clan of the Cave-Bear but I didn't get through the others until after he'd died. I have his copies of the books now so it gives me a nice little link to him.


Let me know what you think. :-)