Victoria Hislop’s The Thread brings alive several forgotten aspects of Greek history, when it was torn apart by World War II and civil war
In her third novel, Victoria Hislop (of The Island and The Return) weaves a story of love and loss in the backdrop of two wars which tear apart the Thessaloniki throughout the 20th century. Much has been written about the rise and fall of Greece in the early years of the millenium; however, Victoria Hislop throws great insight into what had happened in the country since the outbreak of the first world war. The Thread is the story about one such family which withstands many struggles to keep the memories of its and the city’s existence alive.
The story begins in 1917 when a massive fire devastates the Greek city Thessaloniki where Jews, Christians and Muslims live in perfect harmony. Thessaloniki is far away from Athens and is a thriving hub for trade and cultural exchange. Dimitri Komninos and his family are forced to live in a simple house after the fire. Five years later, Katerina Sarafogolu migrates to Thessaloniki after her home is destroyed by the Turkish army. Here she meets Dimitri and the two become great friends and as they grow up, they realize that they are in love with each other. Katreina grows up to become the finest seamstress in the city creating beautiful gowns for the rich ladies and soon she marries Dimitri. However, fate has different plans for this perfect couple and the residents of the city whose bond is tested time and again with wars and cultural strife.
Victoria Hislop succeeds in bringing alive the city’s various facets. Every detail of the city’s residents daily lives is so well narrated that it fuels your imagination. What’s interesting about The Thread is the political context in which the story is set in. There’s hardly a moment in the lives of Dimitri and Katerina where the overwhelming circumstances in which they live in don’t bother them about their future. That’s one of the reasons why the couple send both their children abroad. However, the duo have such a strong bond with the city they lived almost their entire lives that they never considered to migrate to the UK or the US despite repeated pleas from their son and daughter. Cut to 2007, when Dimitri and Katerine narrate their story to their grandson Mitsos, we are told that their memories are too strong. ‘Even if we were given as many diamonds as there are drops in that ocean, there is nothing which would induce us to leave. We will stay in Thessaloniki until we die,” Katerina declares, when her grandson asks her why they didn’t migrate.
The Thread is heart-warming and devastating in equal measure. It’s a story which is bound to make a huge impression if you relate to the gravity of the situation in which Dimitri and Katerine had had to make decisions in.
Name: The Thread
Author: Victoria Hislop
About the Author (Author Profile)
Hemanth writes primarily about Telugu cinema, although he finds inspiration from the works of filmmakers like Woody Allen. Apart from writing, he spends most of his time on Twitter discussing about cinema, travel and life in Hyderabad.