This is my third book by Victoria Hislop and it is not going to be the last. I have loved every single line of this.
While a young man visits his grandparents in Greece, They tell him the story of their life and at the same time the story of their town and country. Thessaloniki has gone through a lot of turmoil and so have its inhabitants.
We get to know successful men and unhappy women, determined men who want to save their country as well as people who have given up all hope. We go through the German occupation and follow the resistance fighters into the mountains. We meet a young seamstress who is determined to work hard to get through life. Her love to the man she shouldn't fall in love with has to overcome many obstacles but since we meet them as the grandparents of the young man at the beginning, we already know that they will finally have a happy end.
This is a story about love and a story about survival. How do people, especially women, get through tumultuous times. Even in wartime, some people seem to try to hold up a class system whereas for others it just seems to became unimportant. We learn how families react differently in difficult situations as well as how relationships are formed - or not - and how different marriages function - or not.
There is so much history in this book, so many details that make history interesting even to people who are not interested in history at all. Victoria Hislop has earned her place on my list of favourite authors. She usually starts with a prologue taking place today and then goes back into the history when finally coming back to modern times in her epilogue. I especially loved the title of this book, a light allusion to the job of a seamstress as well as to all the different people in the story whose lives are linked together.
From the back cover: "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?"
Find the other Victoria Hislop books I read here.