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Victoria Hislop: The Thread
When their grandson asks them why they have never left their home in Greece, The Thread's two main characters, Dimitri and Katerina begin sharing their story with their Anglo-Greek grandson. The novel's prologue and epilogue are set in present-day Greece while the rest of it is set in the twentieth century.
At the beginning of the novel, a fire forces young Dimitri and his family to move from their expensive house and into a simpler one until theirs is rebuilt. There, he meets Katerina, a young refuge from Asia Manor who gets separated from her mother in the midst of war and ends up under the care of a kind hearted woman who takes her in. Growing up together, they soon become best friends and gradually fall in love.
Irini Street, where the two protagonists reside, hosts families of all religions, each with a different story. As events unfold and Dimitri and Katerina grow older, Dimitri moves back with his family to their original house while Katerina becomes the best seamstress in town.
The Thread covers the span of the two world wars and the Greek civil war that took place between communists and nationalists. The story highlights how these events impacted the characters; it's a story of love, war, resilience and survival. Hislop describes in intricate detail the horrors that war does to countries, brilliantly evoking the right sensations in her readers; ranging from anger to heartfelt sympathy.
Hislop introduces many characters and addresses many events, but the story never gets confusing or feels overloaded. There are several sub-plots incorporated, but ultimately the romance between Dimitri and Katerina remains the backbone of the story. As the novel rolls towards the end, romantic readers will dreamily sigh and finally understand why Dimitri and Katerina are so attached to the city they both grew up in.
Although the plot is not entirely original and the whole love-at-times-of-war theme can be found in plenty of books and movies, what makes The Thread so enjoyable is Hislop's writing; the novel has a lot of surprises that keep the reader's interest till the very end. And while readers already know that Dimitri and Katerina are eventually going to get married, it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the story as a whole. However, we can't help but wonder that if readers are familiar with Greece's history, they might find the story a little bit predictable.
A simple online search would give you a chronological account of the Egyptian revolution; accurate dates, death tolls and perhaps even the names of the martyrs. But it will not tell you how it made the Egyptian people feel. Statistics can't describe what the families of the martyrs went through and it cannot accurately express the weight placed on the hearts of millions of Egyptians during this time.
Soueif doesn't ignore the violence perpetrated by the regime against protestors; she also mentions those who have lost their lives. She has kept in mind that by the time readers received her book a lot would have changed, so she frequently refers to the fact that we – her readers – would know more about the current situation than she did while writing it.
As she walks down every street, she supplements her story with memories and anecdotes from her childhood and adolescence, adding an emotional and personal dimension to her book and making it easy for readers to imagine why she is still attached to Cairo despite her long years in London.
The book is a refreshing spin on a now-over-a-year-old revolution. It brings hope. Soueif's sharp senses have led her to assume that by the time the book hits bookshelves, hope would still be the number one motivation and that's how she writes; invoking hope and persistence in the hearts of her readers.
The first impression of main character Abby, a freshman at university, is that she’s a goody-two-shoes and seems to have a reserved, shy personality. She is just starting a new independent life as a student far away from home, but her peace of mind is soon disturbed when she meets Travis; an underground fighter who goes to the same school. He's the kind of guy that every girl should avoid but still dreams of taming. With tattooed arms, the rebellious enigma captures Abby's attention instantly and though he has trouble written all over him, she can't help but get sucked into his world.
But on the other hand, Travis is also somewhat spellbound by Abby's innocence. What he doesn't know, and neither do we at the time, is that he’s in for a surprise; with a sharp tongue and a strong personality, Abby manages to charm the bad boy into submission. As the story progresses, we see Abby building a shield to protect herself from being another challenge that Travis conquers. Frustrated with Abby, Travis is forced to comply with her strict rules and settles for being ‘her friend’.
The novel takes an unusual turn when Abby loses a bet with Travis and is forced to live with him for a whole month. The lines between innocent friendship and love become blurred and as the story goes on, McGuire gradually delves deeper into Abby's fears and the dark past that is still hunting her.
Jumping up the New York Times bestselling charts soon after being published, Beautiful Disaster is much more than a just another romance novel.