Sunday, 30 November 2014

Review of The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

The bit on the back…

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.

Firstly thank you to the wonderful people at Headline for sending me a copy of this to review.

This is the first Victoria Hislop novel that I’ve finished however in a more recent discussion with my colleagues I decided that I wanted to try another of her novels. The e-mail from Headline came at just the right time.

This story is set in Cyprus and tells the story two fictional families during the very real troubles that Cyprus faced in the 70s. The story focuses on the three families – the Papacostas, the Georgious and the Özkans. Each family is different to the next however they have one thing in common and that is their hope for survival.

At first I found the story quite difficult to get into and immerse myself in. I think this is in part due to the historical content of the story as it’s a subject that I knew very little, if anything, about before I began reading. The first half of the story really sets out the plot and introduces you to the characters and builds the relationships up between them.

After the halfway point the story really picks up and I found that I didn’t want to put the book down. The direction of the story becomes clear and the parts the characters will play in the remainder of the story become clear.

In the beginning Hislop creates an image of the idyllic holiday destination. The imagery really brings the town to life and I could almost feel the hope and vibrant potential of the beachfront of Famagusta. A testament to her writing style is the absolute paradox that is drawn when the extent of the conflict is discovered. An almost apocalyptic scene unfolds in front of the characters and the terrifying, haunting remains are really quite powerful. The will to survive is prevalent but equally so is the fear of living in Famagusta as it has become.

As I said this is something I knew little about but something I’ve read up on now after reading this compelling story. I really enjoyed this read although more so in the latter half.

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