‘Who knows if the tales people told me are true or false? I suspect some of them are complete fabrications, others are exaggeration – but perhaps some of them are real.
You can decide.’
There are certain books that land through my letterbox that result in a funny dance and a scream of joy!! Cartes Postales from Greece is one such book.
Written by the wonderful Victoria Hislop, Cartes Postales from Greece will be published on the 22nd of September by Headline Review, in Hardback, Ebook and Audiobook.
I was honoured and overjoyed to receive my copy from Caitlin Raynor, Deputy Communications Director with Headline Review, in return for my very honest review.
‘Everywhere I stopped strangers talked to me, and many of them told me a story. Their voices poured into the void, filling the silence that you had left.’
‘Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.
With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.
On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man’s odyssey through Greece.
Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A’s tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.’
If I never read one page of this book I would still love it for the amazing photographs taken by Alexandros Kakolyris. The pictures he has captured are a thing of beauty.
‘This is a book conceived under Greece’s unique light, a light that Victoria wanted me to capture. Her imagination is unstoppable. From her reaction I realized what my part in this venture was. It wasn’t only interesting and demanding…..it was fascinating!
I had to capture the story as it was created.’
Cartes Postales is more than just a book. It is a series of interwoven stories written in a notebook about one man’s journey through Greece. The stories both inform and inspire the reader, with descriptions that surpass anything I’ve read. I have always loved Victoria Hislop’s books but this one is extra special. With paragraphs and stories reminiscent of Paulo Coelho’s writing, the reader is taken on a journey through the history of Greece.
A, the author of these stories, has suffered quite a traumatic breakup and as a writer, decides to catalog his journey on the back of postcards and in a journal. He imagines he is writing to the person he has lost in love and continues to post them to where he thinks she lives.
Ellie, now living at that address, looks forward to receiving these Cartes Postales and creates a montage of the photos with dreams of her own. When the cards stop coming, Ellie is bereft. Unhappy with her own life, Ellie decides to go to Greece to follow the path of some of the places identified on the cards.
Before her departure, she receives a very unexpected parcel. It is the journal, written by A.
As Ellie soon realises, she is looking into the private but beautiful thoughts of a man on a journey of discovery. The book takes us on this journey with A as he meets with local people and they recount their stories and the shared stories of others with him.
Documented in the journal, A’s writing is that of a man unraveling his thoughts and undertaking a life transforming experience. As I turned over each stunning page, I became totally immersed in the journey with A. In truth I did not want the book to end.
A note from Victoria Hislop:
‘Whenever I create characters, or describe places, or form a plot, I always begin with the photographs that I have taken. I have done this with all my books, from The Island onwards. I surrounded myself with visual images once I was back in the UK writing – a huge board with hundreds of photographs.
And it often occurred to me that it would be wonderful if I could actually use the photographs within a book, the only problem being that mine might not be good enough.
I explored bookshops in England and in Greece to see if anyone was using colour photographs with adult fiction. There was not a single example. It seems that there is a moment in a child’s reading life when somebody decides, suddenly, ” No more pictures! Words only from now on!” Poor grown-ups.
With Greek photographer, Alexandros Kakolyris we decided together to create a book with words and pictures – a visual story book for grown-ups. Alexandros agreed to travel with me, taking photographs all over Greece with his own idiosyncratic perspective on his own country.
Many of the photographs provided my inspiration.
The pictures themselves are not purely illustrations, they are the starting point, the raison d’etre in some way, of the story.
In case you haven’t guessed it already…..I loved this book.
Cartes Postales from Greece is an evocative collection of inspiring and poignant stories that will awaken your senses and take you on a pilgrimage away from the mundane side of life. It is a book I highly recommend.
To read more about Victoria Hislop please follow these links:
Website : http://www.victoriahislop.com
To purchase a copy of Cartes Postales from Greece : http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1472223209