Publication Date: 29 October 2020 (ePub and hardcover) and 22 July 2021 (paperback)
Publisher: Headline Review
25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.
When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy.
In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.
Number one bestselling author Victoria Hislop returns to the world and characters she created in The Island – the award-winning novel that remains one of the biggest selling reading group novels of the century. It is finally time to be reunited with Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the island… and beyond.
One August Night, the sequel to bestseller The Island, takes the reader back to 1957 and to Plaka, a small village on the island of Crete. A short boat ride away is the island of Spinalonga, used as a leper colony. Following the discovery of a cure for leprosy, the novel focuses on events leading up to and the years following the closure of the leper colony. Families are preparing to reunite with their loved ones as they return from exile.
The story focuses on Maria Petrakis and her family – sister Anna, brother-in-law Andreas and his cousin Manolis. Maria and Manolis were once engaged to be married, before Maria was sent to live on Spinalonga. Moving forward a few years, Anna has married well but she is not happy. Marriage and motherhood do not seem to suit her. Her marriage lacks passion and she has turned to Manolis for comfort. When news arrives that the Spinalonga residents will be returning home, both Anna and Manolis worry about what this will mean for them and their secret love affair.
One balmy August night, as the villagers come together to celebrate the return of those from Spinalonga, a tragic event occurs. That event has long reaching consequences for those involved, their families and the wider community. The tale follows the lives of Maria, Anna, Andreas and Manolis as they learn to live with the ramifications of that night.
With a modest 240 pages, the book is relatively short and the author does not delve into the characters in as much depth as in The Island, yet there is still a richness to those individuals, each with their own complexities and flaws.
Hislop’s writing is evocative and compassionate. Crete has a complex and fascinating history and the author takes a snapshot from that, creating a colourful picture of life in Crete, from the music and traditional celebrations, to the locally produced food and drink. Hislop obviously has a love for the country and a deep understanding of it’s history, customs and culture.
One August Night is a dramatic and absorbing story of love, jealousy, betrayal and anger. Yet, it also talks about the power of forgiveness and how people can learn to build a future from the ruins.
I can assure readers that, despite being based on the same characters and events as The Island, this can be read as a standalone story. However, for those who have read The Island, it’s lovely to be back with those familiar characters.
Victoria Hislop is the international bestselling author of The Island and The Return. In the United Kingdom, she writes travel features for The Sunday Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday, House & Garden, and Woman & Home. The Island sold over a million copies in the UK and has been translated into 24 languages. Victoria’s second novel, The Return, has been published in more than a dozen languages. She lives in Kent, with her husband Ian and their two children.