The Thread

By Victoria Hislop

Once again Victoria has set her story The Thread in Greece, a country for which she seems to have a particular affinity. This was the second of her books I read after her excellent story, The Island.

As a child Katarina Sarafoglou, her sister Artemis and their mother Zenia are forced to flee Smyrna, to Greece. It is their mother’s plan to take her family to Athens but at the port waiting for a boat, they become separated. Katerina gets on the wrong boat and lands in Greece in the northern town of Thessaloniki.

Katerina arrived in Thessaloniki with nothing but the clothing she stands in and begins a new life. Even as a child Greece has a talent for sewing. As she grows the talent serves her well. Katerina becomes much sought after, building a reputation as the best seamstress in Thessaloniki, enabling her to help her family put food on the table even during periods of food shortage and german occupation during the wars.

At the other end of town, from a well to do family, young Dimitri Komninos is in growing disagreement with his father who wants him to study law, which he thinks will be useful to the family business selling fabrics. Dimitri wants to study medicine to become a doctor, but the war gets in the way and neither gets what they want.

The thread tells us the sweeping tale of Katarina Sarafoglou and Dimitri Komninos through the decades of 1917 to 2007. Although the story itself is fictional, the historical events through which it is set all happened.

In similar manner to The Island, the tale begins and ends with a young man visiting family in Greece where he is told the story of their lives. Once again Victoria weaves a compelling narrative, tracing two peoples’ lifetime. It seems to me though that Victoria’s greatest writing talent is in making the reader care about her characters.


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