Gransnet forums

Books/book club

November book club - Cartes Postales from Greece

(94 Posts)
LauraGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 01-Nov-16 11:20:11

Our November book club choice is Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop (read more about it HERE).

Winners should be receiving their copies in the next few days. Don't forget that if you do receive one, please leave your thoughts, reviews and questions for Victoria on this thread by the end of November.

Happy reading!

VictoriaHislopauthor Tue 24-Jan-17 12:14:16

GeminiJen

While I came to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter if the stories are true, false or exaggerated, I'd still like to ask the author to tell us more about her choice. Also, to ask her what made her fall in love with Greece and its people, and what effect recent events have had on her views.

My choice of stories was dictated by the journey that I made around Greece. Every place I stopped presented me with an idea, at the same time as something visual - the creation of the photographs and the fiction happened very simultaneously. For example, the Man on the Mountaintop - was inspired by the sight of the man standing alone in the mist. This moment happens at the end of the story, but it was the inspiration for the whole. And the violinist, playing so happily in the sunshine inspired the story set in Kalamata about the busker.

I wanted to write a book where recent events are just “off-stage” so to speak. Anthony is very much travelling in the present - so the story of the laterna player who does not pay his taxes is very much based on the reality of Greece - i.e. many people don’t consider it their duty/responsibility to pay tax, so they simply don’t. I mention the day to day reality of Greece in Cartes Postales - but at the same time, I don’t want readers to forget its beauty. There are definitely these two sides to Greece - the dilapidated side (caused by the lack of public resources) and the eternally beautiful side (which is the aspect that people who go there for vacations see). They co-exist, and probably always will do.

VictoriaHislopauthor Tue 24-Jan-17 11:57:40

Waveney

Thank you for this book - it's format was ideal for bedtime reading. I really enjoyed the short stories, and felt that they conveyed the atmosphere of 21st century Greece well. The author obviously is passionate about the country and made me want to visit a country I have never been to ( maybe this year?) I didn't find the wraparound story as convincing - the ending was very contrived. I felt it would have worked better as a selection of short stories, but maybe that wouldn't have sold as well! I would like to ask Victoria how many of the stories had an element of truth, or were they totally fictional. I have passed the book onto my daughter to read.

As I explain above, the stories, the characters, the plot are all entirely from my imagination. But each one was inspired/sparked off by something real or tangible - a place, someone’s face, a tradition I heard about or saw (such as the Theophania - which happens all over Greece where people are close to the sea - all the young men of the locality jump into the water on 6 January to swim for a cross thrown in by the priest - it’s kind of obvious to me that such a competitive situation could lead to trouble!). Another example was the sight of a violinist in Kalamata - he showed me that his violin had the name Stradivarius inside. So the violinist was real, but everything else is completely fictional. Reality just provides a tiny seed for the imagination.

VictoriaHislopauthor Tue 24-Jan-17 11:57:07

DavidH22

Are the short stories told to A your fiction or passed to you by Greeks you met? Could you say why you so obviously love Greece?

It’s a very gratifying question to be asked. And even some of my Greek readers have asked the same thing… The answer is that the stories are all entirely fictional - but as with all the stories I write, I want people to wonder. They are all meant to be stories that have an air of reality and they are all triggered by something I have seen, or something I have sensed - but my imagination does all the rest. I think storytelling should always have an air of doubt about it, so I am glad that you asked this question.

Why do I love Greece? Apart from the obvious beauty of the landscape, the climate, the food, the friendly people - I am fascinated by the history too and what I have learned about the connection of the landscape with the development (or lack of, in some cases) in the country as a whole. There is never a dull moment in Greece - politically or historically - and learning about its present and its past always excites me.

VictoriaHislopauthor Tue 24-Jan-17 11:56:10

annemac101

Victoria Hislop is one of my favourite authors, I just love her books however I didn't enjoy this one so much. The story started well and I became interested then the short stories started and I kind of lost interest. The short stories did not endear me towards the Greeks, I hated the thought that vendettas can last for years and can go on through generations. The photos went very well with each story and it was cleverly done. I liked the book better when the main story picked up again and the ending was rounded off nicely. At the end I decided I did enjoy it just not as much as her others. I would like to ask Victoria if she has already started or has an idea what her next book will be? I really want to read her other books all over again.

Yes, I am in the early stages on the next book. And once again the story is set in Greece. Over the past three years I have been reading and researching, and the idea has been “percolating” in my mind (most of us use nespresso machines these days, and the coffee percolator has gone out of fashion - but I still love the word!). It is a story set in the 20th century and explores part of Greek history that I believe very few people know that much about. I have found it fascinating to research the background.

middleagespread Fri 13-Jan-17 13:29:35

Christmas prevented me from reading this book by the due date and I'm sorry, as grandMattie suggested maybe a later closing date might be in order. Retired I might be but busy, busy, busy is my watchword. However, once started I found it hard to put down. I found it was easy to follow and much like reading short stories for each destination brought a new interesting sometimes poignant story.My absolute favourite piece was about Costa and the description of love of his wife.
The postcards within the text of the kindle book were fun to look at and I almost feel as if I have now sampled the country. Definitely one to read and savour.

Shinyredcar Wed 11-Jan-17 11:00:06

After issues with the electronic version, I was sent a hardback copy which suffered from the Christmas mail, so arrived very late. I had taken a volume of Victoria Hislop short stories from the library to see what I was missing. They were also about Greece. I found them easy reading, so started on Cartes Postales with a relaxed attitude.

I was surprised at the additional costs that the format must have caused, though the silk bookmark ribbon was an usual touch these days and added to the feel of the book. I wasn't convinced that the illustrations were worth the cost, or the added bulk. They may assist sales for those browsing in bookshops, though a high proportion of buyers don't handle a book until it is delivered.

Short stories are an unfashionable format these days, though I agree with other posters, they are handy for bedtime reading. I would like to ask Victoria whether she saw the book as a complete structure when she started to write it, or whether she tried to work out a way to sell a short story collection, and the book grew from that? She clearly enjoys that form.

Yes, the ending is predictable but the book is an enjoyable read, not great literature, so that's OK. Probably ideal to read on a Greek beach?

sweetpea Mon 09-Jan-17 19:27:43

I,too, received a copy belatedly. Regret it went to the bottom of a pile of paperwork only to be resurrected recently and now on the book table with others waiting to be read! I hope I enjoy it once I start, but some of the negative comments have floored me somewhat. 🙁

Craftycat Wed 04-Jan-17 15:17:07

I was so disappointed in this book. I love the Greek people, the place itself, the food & everything about it & I have read all Victoria Hislop's previous books.I must admit not with 100% liking ( there are errors) but she tells a good tale usually.
I felt this was just a cop out & a series of fairly bland tales with a flimsy thread holding them together. Not a good book to read on Kindle as the pictures are not great quality & the font changes requiring you to change it often.
I was really looking forward to reading it too.

Cosafina Wed 21-Dec-16 07:49:27

I dint know what to make of this book. The stories seem so disjointed, and to finish up with Daedalus and Icarus?
It's clear that Victoria Hislop loves Greece, so I imagine she wanted to try and share that with us, but I don't feel this book really succeeded, in that it hasn't made me desperate to jump on a plane to Greece.
Bit of a disappointment overall, I'm afraid

Greenfinch Tue 20-Dec-16 07:09:23

I very much enjoyed the short stories.They were fascinating and varied but did not show the Greek persona in a good light.In fact it made the Greeks seem quite a spooky nation.However,I liked the stories so much that I have asked for a book of her short stories for Christmas.This was the first time I had read of Victoria's books.

harrigran Tue 20-Dec-16 00:08:05

I am not finished this book yet, I am reading it a chapter a night. At first I found it rather fragmented and wasn't sure which way the book was going. When I realised that they were stories told to the traveller by locals of the towns visited it all became more interesting. I have never visited Greece so am not familiar with place names but it is still an interesting book and is well written.
My sister has asked to have the book after me as she often holidays in Greece and has read good reviews of Victoria Hislop.

GeminiJen Fri 16-Dec-16 20:03:20

I found this good in parts.
The descriptions of Greece, its history, culture, mythology, anecdotes and human nature are very evocative. But I'm not a fan of short stories and found some of them rather weak, with predictable endings. And the ending was too neat/contrived for my liking.
That said, Victoria Hislop's love of Greece shines through and I found that heart warming.
While I came to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter if the stories are true, false or exaggerated, I'd still like to ask the author to tell us more about her choice. Also, to ask her what made her fall in love with Greece and its people, and what effect recent events have had on her views.

marpau Wed 14-Dec-16 13:55:59

I found this book delightful it reminded me very much of a favourite book of my teenage years which was a collection of stories by Saki. The only story which left me with more questions than answers was the one about Athanasius visiting her father's village. As with previous books by this author it left me wanting to read another.

Redsmudgy Tue 13-Dec-16 09:05:15

I travel to Greece two or three times a year and have been to many of the places named in the book. I love this book, the stories and illustrations are a joy. However, I think that if you haven't experienced the Greek lifestyle you might find this book a bit disjointed and tedious.

ValC Tue 13-Dec-16 00:06:54

I unfortunately didn't find this book very interesting. It seemed to jump all over the place and unlike most of the other posts I didn't find the illustrations added anything to the story. The ending was definitely predictable.

annemac101 Mon 12-Dec-16 17:47:09

I have already gave my review of the book but after reading some people saying that this is the first book they've read by Victoria Hislop I wanted to say how much I have loved her other books. If you enjoy a bit of history surrounding a fiction story then you'll love her. She has become my favourite author but this one really isn't her best book. So give the others a try they're so good.

GandT Mon 12-Dec-16 16:11:16

My first Victoria Hislop book and probably not my last. I thoroughly enjoyed the 'diary' of stories as told by the traveller, but wonder how many of them are true as some paint a very disturbing and unattractive side to the Greeks. The inclusion of colour postcards (ebook version) added to the dialogue and sense of place as I have only visited Greece on one occasion. Like others, I thought the ending was very predictable.

Waveney Mon 12-Dec-16 10:22:10

Thank you for this book - it's format was ideal for bedtime reading. I really enjoyed the short stories, and felt that they conveyed the atmosphere of 21st century Greece well. The author obviously is passionate about the country and made me want to visit a country I have never been to ( maybe this year?) I didn't find the wraparound story as convincing - the ending was very contrived. I felt it would have worked better as a selection of short stories, but maybe that wouldn't have sold as well! I would like to ask Victoria how many of the stories had an element of truth, or were they totally fictional. I have passed the book onto my daughter to read.

hjw2505 Sat 10-Dec-16 18:27:53

I found this book ideal for reading on my commute to work. The interwoven threads and stories at each location my have seemed disjointed if reading all I one go, but fitted well into my 2 20 minute bus journeys. I thought many of the stories had echoes of Greek myths and legends and there was a moral thread running through the whole book. The postcard images really added to the pleasure of reading this book

Purpledaffodil Sat 10-Dec-16 07:28:42

The narrative of this book is set in 2016 and it was interesting to read current viewpoints on the Greek economy expressed by the characters. The format was short stories linked by this narrative using page colour and font to mark the differences. There were some evocative photos too.
I have read and enjoyed books by Victoria Hislop in the past, especially The Island. However the format of this one interrupted the flow and I found it hard to get into the story. The characters were stereotypes in the main and the ending felt contrived. Disappointing!

ecci53 Fri 09-Dec-16 13:03:34

I received a voucher to download it, but I don't do apple. Please give it to someone else. I don't remember the t&cs saying you had to have an apple device. I read ebooks all the time on my tablet, but I won't have anything to donwith apple.

weather Fri 09-Dec-16 11:44:54

Thank you very much for the free book it arrived just after I had returned home from hospital. I was over the moon as I had tried to reserve it at my local library but had not been able to. So looking forward to reading it after I have finished my current library book. I have loved all of Victoria Hislop's books and really look forward to enjoying this one. I have plenty of resting time to fill so I shall not be too long in doing so..I will come back when I have done so.

coffecup Thu 08-Dec-16 13:11:39

Always enjoy this author i like this book and would recommend her books to any memembers who have not tried them

nannyto5 Thu 08-Dec-16 11:10:05

As I didn't receive the book until 25th November I am still in the process of reading. However, I am thoroughly enjoying what I have read so far. Victoria writes such brilliant descriptions of the people, the places, the atmosphere etc, that you feel you really are there. And I love the individual short stories, just long enough to read before you drop off to sleep. I'm looking forward to seeing how the story develops and concludes.

DavidH22 Thu 08-Dec-16 10:56:01

I've read most of Victoria Hislop's previous books and enjoyed them but I'm sorry to say this was dull and disappointing. Like most books of short stories I never felt I got to know any of the characters or saw them develop in their fictional worlds. Certainly Ms Hislop's love and feelings for Greece, its people, traditions and cultures is wonderfully drawn and her writing transports you to those sandy beaches and small harbours. As rocketstop says it's more a travel book than a novel with that impression enforced by the numerous pictures. Having said all that I would not hesitate to read anything by Ms Hislop in future. And if she is still speaking to Gransnet after the criticisms could I ask a couple of questions? Are the short stories told to A your fiction or passed to you by Greeks you met? Could you say why you so obviously love Greece?