Monday 31 August 2015

The Sunrise - Victoria Hislop

In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island's most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city's façade of glamour and success, tension is building.
When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

What did I think?

I wasn't sure I was going to like this when I started it, but I am pleased to say how wrong I was!  I thought I would never remember who was who with the unfamiliar sounding Greek and Turkish names, but the book drew me in so much that I felt almost a part of each family.

Having looked through the wall into Famagusta on a family holiday to Cyprus in 1992, it was a sight that has stayed with me for so many years.  The abandoned city described in this book was not just a glimpse through the wall but a walk down the desolate streets.

This is a story of those who left Famagusta and those who stayed behind.  Both are equally disturbing and heartfelt; Aphroditi whose husband had ploughed all their money into hotels and now has nothing but her parents' apartment in Nicosia; the Georgious and the Özkans who refused to leave Famagusta so their loved ones could find them when they returned from fighting.  Markos Georgiou is the character I loved to hate!  He runs the nightclub in The Sunrise for Aphroditi's husband, Savvas.  Aphroditi always felt suspicious of him but as they grow closer will she find out that first impressions are often right?

I was really moved by this story.  The two families surviving together, looking out for each other and creating links that can never be severed, when they were in effect on opposite sides of the conflict.  I loved the message that they are Cypriots first and foremost - whether Greek or Turkish is irrelevant.

I received this book from the publisher, Headline, via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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