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The last years of Spinalonga as a leper colony.

The Eagle of Spinalonga - Nike Azoros

Judging by other reviewer's ratings, this is a popular book, however, I did not feel it earned more than three stars. Firstly it needed a fair amount of editing to correct typos and give it more of a narrative feel, rather than 'this happened and then this happened...' Secondly, it contained continuity errors: a) the residents on the island were starving, yet there was a fat prostitute, b) Nikos manages to stay hidden on a small island with a huge eagle, yet the disruptive Pavos never finds him, never even appears to be wondering where he has gone for days on end, and finally, c) having made a big thing about the fact that letters could not be sent home in case of contagion, the message about the state of poverty and starvation on the island, is delivered by a series of letters.

 

The story is a fictional adaptation of events on the leper colony of Spinalonga in the years prior to the invasion of Greece by Germans in WWII. Nikos Lambrakis finds himself diagnosed with leprosy and is banished to the barren island, where his training as a lawyer stands him in good stead. He organises the residents into working groups and helps provide food with the help of a magnificent eagle that he catches and trains. Eventually in the late 1950s a cure is found and the residents gradually leave for treatment. 

 

I Googled images of leprosy and it was a truly awful disease that must have been a fearful diagnosis for those who succumbed. It is sobering to realise that in spite of there being a cure, there are still people in third world countries who are isolated and shunned to suffer these disfigurements alone.

 

This story is very similar to the book called The Island by Victoria Hislop, which I personally thought was better written and rated 4 stars. Thankfully, The Island lacks the gratuitous sex that appeared far too frequently in The Eagle of Spinalonga and I was very surprised to learn that the author was a woman.