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The Last Dance

The Last Dance

These ten tales of Greek life evoke a strong sense of place, from the dusty streets of the capital to shady little tavernas in village squares. In these stories, Victoria Hislop takes us through the streets of Athens and into the tree-lined squares of Greek villages. As she evokes their distinct atmosphere, she brings to life a host of characters, from a lonesome priest to battling brothers, and from an unwanted stranger to a groom troubled by music and memory. These are tales of love and loyalty, of separation and reconciliation, of revenge and competition. Each story focuses on a simple, clearly defined theme: feuding twins, protective parents, ancient grievances, and young love. Modern Greek history, from the Nazi occupation to the present-day economic crisis and riots, is integral to many of the stories. The style is very simple, as are the line drawings that accompany each tale.

These ten stories were generally enjoyed by the members at the time of reading as they did indeed draw a picture of Greek villages although we felt that they were instantly forgettable. This was in part due to the feeling that the characters were fairly one dimensional and quite under developed. We agreed that the writing was repetitive to some extent which made the stories easy to read but somewhat mundane. The group felt that the author possibly had a store of unfinished ideas for stories which had been brought together for this collection. We also realised that some of the stories were quite old and had been published previously. The stories did not have a definitive ending which could be frustrating. The author did give a good insight into Greek culture which left the group wondering whether rural Greece is still like this today. We also found the photographs in the back of the book interesting.

In conclusion, the stories were not very substantial, it may be ok for a holiday read but we would not recommend the book. Members did comment however that other Victoria Hislop novels were worth a read.

Review by Janine Tibbles