Title: Island of Secrets
Author: Patricia Wilson
Genre: Fiction; World War II, Family
Source: Kindle Recommendation
My favourite quote; ‘A breeze rustled through the grove. Trees swayed, their dark shadows performing a hideous dance around me. The ravens circled back, flying devils that ate our precious corn. I wanted to screech a warning but kept quiet, afraid of capture and terrified of the consequences.’
As part of my mini collection of holiday reads, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Island of Secrets when it came up as a recommendation. I’m not one who can tolerate horror or stories of war and murder. It was a surprise to find that firstly, there was a lot of the story was based in world war II, and secondly, that I couldn’t put the book down! It was a story that captured my heart and honestly I don’t think I will ever forget it.
The story starts with Angie as the protagonist who beings her journey to Crete to find her long lost grandmother and family she’s never known. Angie’s mother, Poppy, ran away from home when she was young and refuses to speak about the past to her daughter, who would like nothing more than for the family to reconnect for her own wedding. She ends up going against her mothers wishes and flies to Crete to find out the truth of her Poppy’s past, only discover it’s more complicated than she thought. A feud between two local families that has lasted two generations. Angie realises the only way she is going to find out what happened, is to patiently hear it from her grandmother, Marie.
Marie is ready to tell her side of the story, but she needs to tell it her way. She takes the reader back to September 1943, world war II, where she lives through the horror of losing a child and sacrificing everything to save her other two children. It’s heartbreaking, dangerous, painful and heroic. You can’t help but feel every single emotion Marie experiences in her perilous story or the friendships she makes along the way. Your heart will touch the pages for every sacrifice she has to make to ensure her family’s safety. Marie’s story draws you in so much, you feel a bit lost and overwhelmed with mixed feelings when she stops to rest. I could not put the book down as I needed her to finish the story – not for Angie, but for me. Poppy doesn’t even come into the story until later on, and it doesn’t even matter. You’re so caught up in world war II that you almost forget why Angie is there.
It’s beautifully written story, the author is able to really set the scene during the war. I personally think had the perfect balance between Marie’s past and Angie’s present, although I felt the ending was a bit rushed after what felt like a really slow in depth story told by Maria. The present catches up with you too quickly and doesn’t stop its pace.
I understand that Angie is frustrated throughout the book as no one around her, except her grandmother, will give her any information about her mother’s past. You know she wants to help her mother, but you can’t help but think she’s also a bit selfish and just trying to get the family together for HER big day, rather than considering the emotions of others. Her mother had a heart attack with just the idea of speaking to her own mother, her uncle hates her and wants her to leave and everyone else refuses to speak to her about the past as it’s too difficult. You would think Angie would back off a bit and give her grandmother time to explain why.
‘As I remember, the story started at about six o’clock in the morning on the fourteenth of September, 1943…’
All her life Angie 37-year-old London-born has been intrigued by her mother’s secret past. Now, planning her own wedding she feels she must visit the remote Cretan village her mother grew up in, despite her objections. Unbeknownst to Angie her elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She wants to unburden herself of the terrible story that she will otherwise take to the grave.
It’s the story of the time of the German 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 of how you learn to go on in the aftermath of tragedy. And it’s the story of bitter secrets that broke the family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.