Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Published July 2015 by Harper Paperbacks
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Summer 1972—Famagusta is Cyprus’s most desirable tourist destination in the Mediterranean. Aphroditi Papacostas and her husband, Savvas, own The Sunrise, a wildly successful new luxury hotel. Frequented by only the very wealthiest of Europe’s elite, The Sunrise quickly becomes the place to see and be seen. Yet beneath the veneer of tranquil opulence simmers mounting hostility between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Years of unrest and ethnic violence come to a head when, in 1974, Greece’s coup d’état provokes a Turkish attack on beautiful Famagusta. The fallout sends the island’s inhabitants spiraling into fear and chaos, and the Papacostases join an exodus of people who must abandon their idyllic lives in Famagusta and flee to refugee camps. In the end, only two families remain in the decimated city: the Georgious and the Özkans. One is Greek Cypriot, the other Turkish Cypriot, and the tension between them is palpable. But with resources scarce and the Turkish militia looming large, both families must take shelter in the deserted hotel as they battle illness, hunger, fear, and their own prejudices while struggling to stay alive.
Confession: I have not finished this book. Not because I didn't have time. And it's not that I might not finish it at some point. But right now, I couldn't do it. And that disappoints me because, judging from the summary, I was sure that it would absolutely pull me in. But there's something missing in that summary that I just couldn't get past. After 135 pages, I pulled the plug. If you read this blog very often, you know how rare that is.
Do you see anything in that summary about a "love" story? Me either. It's not that I'm opposed to a love story. After all, a Romeo and Juliet story would have worked just fine given the setting and time. But that's not what Hislop has centered this book around. Instead, we have the classic trope of two beautiful people who hate each other eventually ended up in bed together. I'm not giving away anything here - you'll know this is coming the minute you find out how much these two dislike each other. I found it so unnecessary - at least as far as I got, 135 pages.
But...the political situation very much interested me as did the two families (who, more or less, had nothing to do with the lovers) on opposite sides of the conflict. So I haven't entirely given up on this one yet. Because it does seem like it could turn into something that I would very much enjoy.
For other opinions about The Sunrise, check out the full tour.
Victoria Hislop is the internationally bestselling author of The Island and The Return. She writes travel features for the Sunday Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, House and Garden, and Woman and Home. She divides her time among rural Kent, London, and Crete. She is married and has two children.