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.
The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop is published in hardback by Headline on 25 September 2014.
People who know me, know that I adore Greece. I love visiting, I love the food, the people, the history, the culture. It is this love that brought me to Victoria Hislop's novels and The Island, sent on the leper island of Spinalonga just off the coast of Crete is one of my favourite stories. I also enjoyed The Thread, set in Thessaloniki and her collection of short stories The Last Dance and Other Stories. She also also written about the Spanish Civil War in her novel The Return, but I wasn't so keen on that one.
When I learnt that her latest novel; The Sunrise was to be set in the northern Cypriot town of Famagusta, I was intrigued as Cyprus is an island that I've visited many times. I've stood at the dividing barrier in the capital city of Nicosia, and gazed across at the ruins of Famagusta. I've talked to local Greek Cypriots about how they had to leave their homes after the invasion forty years ago. I've seen the shrine to the missing, those whose bodies were never recovered and whose families still mourn their loss.
Beginning in the summer of 1972, The Sunrise is the story of the old Famagusta. The glittering, glamorous holiday resort populated by the beautiful rich and serviced by wonderful hotels and willing locals. The wealthiest of these visitors stay at The Sunrise; a new hotel built and owned by Savvas Papacosta and his wife Aphroditi. The Sunrise is their latest venture, glitzier and more expensive than their other hotel, and financed by Aphroditi's wealthy father.
Victoria Hislop describes life in this haven so well, bringing to life the guests, the hotel workers and the hustle and bustle of fabulous Famagusta.
The tourists are unaware of the political rumblings in Cyprus. Hidden from them is the violence, the simmering unrest. The locals are aware of the battles within the Government, and the memories of battles between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots are never far from their minds.
In 1974 everything comes to a head. The island is divided and the tourists flee. Greek and Turk Cypriots are once again at war, the violence escalates, the streets are dangerous, the hotels lie empty except for the mice and the rats.
Caught up in this conflict are two families from either side, and central to the story is an unlikely love affair, an affair that has repercussions for these two families for many years.
I enjoyed this story and the setting and the characters, however, for me, there was something missing. Despite the fact that the author does not hide the violence, this novel still felt a little too glossy, with just a few too many coincidences to convince me of the authenticity of the plot.
The Sunrise is an easy read, with plenty of action to keep the reader interested, but not quite enough depth for me.
Check out Karen's review of The Sunrise on her blog My Reading Corner.
Victoria Hislop is a writer and journalist. Her first novel, The Island, held the number one slot in the Sunday Times paperback chart for eight consecutive weeks and has sold one million copies. Her second novel, The Return, debuted at number one in the Sunday Times paperback chart.
She was named Newcomer of the Year at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2007.
Victoria lives in Kent with her husband and two children.
For more information visit her website www.victoriahislop.com
Visit her Facebook Author Page
Follow her on Twitter @VicHislop