The Sunrise is the finest hotel in Famagusta, and Savvos and Aphroditi, the owners, Markos, the nightclub manager, the beach boy and their families are caught up in the glamour and excitement – ignoring the prospect of war between Greek and Turkish Cypriots; and indeed Greece and Turkey. When suddenly the war that has threatened appears their lives are all thrown dramatically off course.
This book was clever. I was completely drawn into the stories of the character’s lives before the war – and like them, dismissed the references to disquiet as annoying interruptions to what was really going on. The characters should have known better and I definitely should have known better; but it served as a powerful illustration of how lives are totally turned upside down by things that seem periphery to our obsession with our own lives.
It didn’t take long for me to be equally drawn in by what happened next to all the characters; and the subsequent plots were exciting and gripping of themselves. Some of the characters remain in Famagusta, which turns into a ghost town populated by bored and vicious soldiers, and their survival in this place is fascinating; a really imaginative adventure. The other characters escape but are pulled back in a variety of ways, all showing different elements of the effects of the conflict.
The characters here were fantastic. We had insight into both the rich and poor families, the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots; whose stories reflected each other and wove together intriguingly. Mainly we were treated to real humans and real families trying to cope with loss, danger, and love. I really enjoyed the interactions between the two families and particularly the women; their friendships and difficulties were lovingly, humanly and warmly portrayed.
Historically it was an insight into the history of Cypress and an intriguing adventure – but I admit the finer details of the conflict were lost on me as I wasn’t ever completely sure which side was doing what, or what they wanted. This was probably due to my inattention rather than anything else, but perhaps I would have had a better understanding if it had been more clear. But the balance of the book was far more about the human stories than the facts of war, so I don’t think I missed out on much.
I’d definitely recommend this book; the switch between a relatively normal world (or perhaps beyond normal – a sort of paradise created for the tourists at least) and the people, levelled, and fighting for survival, was intriguing, and the individual character story lines all compelling of themselves. I’ll be reading more Hislop I am sure!
Thanks so much to Bookbridgr and Headline Review for the review copy, which of course in no way influenced my review.