Skip to content

A part of the

Reading group reviews: The Thread by Victoria Hislop

24 May 2012 / 1 Comment

We gave away reading group sets of The Thread by Victoria Hislop. If your reading group or book club has read the book, please do use this page to post your reviews and see what other reading group members think of it.

About the book

Thessaloniki, 1917. As Dimitri Komninos is born, a devastating fire sweeps through the thriving Greek city where Christians, Jews and Muslims live side by side. Five years later, Katerina Sarafoglou's home in Asia Minor is destroyed by the Turkish army. Losing her mother in the chaos, she flees across the sea to an unknown destination in Greece. Soon her life will become entwined with Dimitri's, and with the story of the city itself, as war, fear and persecution begin to divide its people.

Thessaloniki, 2007. A young Anglo-Greek hears his grandparents' life story for the first time and realises he has a decision to make. For many decades, they have looked after the memories and treasures of the people who were forced to leave. Should he become their next custodian and make this city his home?

About the Author

Victoria Hislop is a writer and journalist. She writes travel features for the Sunday Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday and Woman & Home. Victoria lives in Kent with her husband, Ian Hislop, and their two children.

Follow Victoria Hislop on Twitter.

Readers' Reviews

The group thoroughly enjoyed The Thread. They loved the characters who they felt were so real. They felt they were being transported to Thessalonika as the research was so well done as at times it did not feel like a work of fiction as we got to know the historical problems of Thessalonika.The author gave us some interesting facts about Greece and the different cultures that lived there. Enjoyed the writing style , some members of the group not sure if chapter one should have been at the end .You already knew the 2 main characters would get together. We did have a long discussion querying the ages of Dimitri, Katerina and their grandson.Group members wished the book was longer.Several would have liked to have had Leonidas to have had a bigger role in the book.We drew comparisons between Greece in those days and Greece today.

Greenhills Library Reading Group

The Thread is the story of Thessalonika, Greece, from 1917 to the present day, beautifully and simply told via the lives of Dimitri and Katerina. It is also a love story and a story of hope. Hislop takes us through the years of the second world war, the occupation of Greece, the holocaust and the civil war, yet somehow manages to do this gently but believably. We get to know the families living in Thessalonika and the intimate details of their day to day lives, Christians, Jews and Muslims all living amiably side by side, and subsequently feel the pain and futility when communities and lives get ripped apart. Through it all, Katerina continues to sew (presumably the thread of the title) and her life remains entwined with Dimitri's, although one is rich and the other poor.

The discussion notes for the book say that Hislop wanted to 'open the eyes and tug the heart strings' and we felt that she managed to do that. Although we are obviously all aware that the second world war and the holocaust happened, none of us had previously known the history of Thessalonika or of the (mis)treatment of the different religious groups there. We also had our eyes opened regarding the Greek regime in more recent times. Hislop deftly, and with a light and easy to read touch, tells the human side of the story, which is what tugs so effectively at the heart strings.

Most of us have read both Victoria Hislop's previous novels and almost unanimously felt this one to be her best yet. We eagerly await her next....

West Rainton Reading Group

Post your reading group reviews

Post your reviews of The Thread here. If you're already a member, just login. If you're not, join and post your comment.

We look forward to reading your reviews.

1 Comment

Login to leave a comment

  1. Shadforth WI Book Group 02:20, 15 September 2012

    Having really enjoyed Victoria Hislop's The Island we had high hopes for this book and were not disappointed. This is the story of Katerina and Dimitri as told to their grandson, but it is also the story of Thessaloniki, the city they live in. Dimitri is born there but 5 year old Katerina is driven there by fate when, with her mother and baby sister, she is driven from Smyrna by the invading Turkish army. Separated from them, saved by a Greek soldier and taken in by the woman who would become her foster mother, she arrives in Thessaloniki and finds a home in the same street that Dimitri lives in, where she eventually becomes a talented seamstress. This occupation gives the author the opportunity to include many vivid descriptions of her exquisite embroidery and the gowns she works on as well as providing Katerina with a way to preserve and hide the precious possessions of friends forced to leave. Dimitri is from a wealthy family and is only living in that area while his money obsessed father builds up his business again after a catastrophic fire which almost destroyed the city. The story of these two however is intrinsically bound up with the story of Thessaloniki itself which suffers fire, German occupation and two expulsions of huge swathes of its population on religious grounds but survives each time and re-establishes itself. It is a thriving lively place full of great sorrows and great joys and for us this was the main 'thread' of the book. We knew nothing of Thessaloniki or its history and found it fascinating. It is a powerful story filled with a cast of diverse characters. Although the book deals with some terrible events it does not dwell on the atrocities for it is not a history book. It is a story of ordinary people in extraordinary times and how they cope. Our only real criticism is that sometimes situations are resolved too easily. Katerina is separated from her family and immediately a soldier, Dimtiri's uncle, is at her side forcing a way through the hordes to the boat where Eugenia takes her in and cares for her despite her own needs. Then on arrival in Thessaloniki when everyone else is sent to what is essentially a shanty town Katerina and her new friends are assigned a proper house in the town. On the whole though a thoroughly good read. Shadforth WI Book Group