Nov 24, 2014

The Sunrise by 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 are about to 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.


Review by Tanya:
I have been an avid reader of Victoria’s books after reading the Island a few years ago and have had this in my pile to read for a few weeks.  I was not disappointed.
The book is set in a Northern Cypriot town of Famagusta and starts in the year of 1972 when there were many tourists that visited the area for its look hot days, golden beaches and glamourous lifestyle.  The richest of these people would stay at the best hotel in the area owned by Savvas Papacosta and his beautiful wife Aphroditi.  It was full of luxury and glamour and funded by Aphroditi’s family.  The book starts with the opening of this outstanding hotel.
For a few years things continue to prosper and Aphroditi often has new expensive jewellery handmade for her so that Savvas can show his wealth.  However Aphroditi is not happy at being second best to money and investment in Savvas’ life and struggles with his attitude towards her.  She is not happy at feeling that she has no use in his world.
There is also political unrest between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots and in 1974 everything comes to a head with people having to flee their homes with nothing.   What happens to two families of different backgrounds during this time and the knock on effect to Aphroditi is disturbing and contains many aspects of truth of what happened in the area at the time. 
There are many main characters in this book and sometimes I had to think hard about who was who.  The main one of these is Markos Georgiou who is the manager of the night club, Clair de Lune, at The Sunrise.  Initially Markos enjoys being seen as Savvas’ right hand man but you learn through the book how devious and how much resentment he feels to Savvas for taking him for granted. 
I love the interaction that happens during the unrest between two very special families and how they became a very important part of the book.  The problems they face leads you to understand that the problems of war and unrest affects both sides.
I really enjoyed this book despite the violence and upsetting stories it contains.  It was very well researched and was a great read.  Like all Victoria’s books I believe you need to be able to concentrate on the story and don’t expect a happy go lucky book.  

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