The Figurine

The Figurine


In her irresistible new novel, Sunday Times No 1 bestselling author Victoria Hislop shines a light on the questionable acquisition of cultural treasures and the price people - and countries - will pay to cling on to them.

Of all the ancient art that captures the imagination, none is more appealing than the Cycladic figurine. An air of mystery swirls around these statuettes from the Bronze Age and they are highly sought after by collectors - and looters - alike.

When Helena inherits her grandparents' apartment in Athens, she is overwhelmed with memories of the summers she spent there as a child, when Greece was under a brutal military dictatorship. Her remote, cruel grandfather was one of the regime's generals and as she sifts through the dusty rooms, Helena discovers an array of valuable objects and antiquities. How did her grandfather amass such a trove? What human price was paid for them?

Helena's desire to find answers about her heritage dovetails with a growing curiosity for archaeology, ignited by a summer spent with volunteers on a dig on an Aegean island. Their finds fuel her determination to protect the precious fragments recovered from the baked earth - and to understand the origins of her grandfather's collection.

Helena's attempt to make amends for some of her grandfather's actions sees her wrestle with the meaning of 'home', both in relation to looted objects of antiquity ... and herself.

Our Review

The Figurine is Victoria Hislop at her finest. This book has everything: Greek and International Politics, History, Family Politics, Tombraiders and Romance. It is written in exquisite detail and covers a vast expanse of history. 

"Helena stood at the top of the aircarft steps blinking into the sunlight, a hot breeze blowing strands of hair across her face. Why was everything so shimmering? So dazzingly bright?" 

In 1968 Helena vistis her Greek grandparents for the first time. She knows all about her Greek heritage and knows her mother is estranged from her parents, but she doesn't know why. Helena's grandmother is loving and welcoming but from the beginning Helena notices a distance to her grandfather. Throughout the book Helena, and the reader, come to dislike the man intensely. 

"She couldn't tell her grandmother that she found him frightening, and only admitted to herself that she was happier on the days when he was not around." 

It isn't until much later she discovers from her mother quite how distasteful a man her grandfather is. He was responsible for a number of atrocious acts in Greek history. With this knowledge Helena becomes interested in Greek history and politics alongside the passion she already has for Greek culture. 

"You understand that my father was part of all that...that repression. It's why I left Greece and have never been back. I didn't want to have anything to do with it." 

Helena's initial love of Greece continues into adulthood and when she finds herself with an opportunity to return in adulthood she jumps at the opportunity. As a result Helena ends up uncovering Greek historical artefacts being stolen and sold in foreign countries for extortionate prices. Helena is outraged and decides something must be done. 

"And it belongs to the island where it was found. To Greece. To all of us."

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

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