THE SUNRISE, by Victoria Hislop, is her fifth novel. I have been wild to get my hands on this book ever since I heard it was coming out. The nice people at Harper Collins have been kind enough to send me this beautiful review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Those of you who have read Hislop before will know that she is the mistress of research. And attention to detail. I first became aware of her through her novel THE ISLAND. What a debut! I also loved THE RETURN, and learned about the Spanish Civil War.
This time Hislop is unearthing a resort that thrived on the island of Cyprus, off the coasts of Greece and Turkey. Famagusta
was a resort paradise where the stinking rich and famous beautiful people came to play and relax and strut their stuff. That was then. That was before 1974.
THE SUNRISE begins in 1972 on the island of Cyprus where 40,000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots worked together amicably. Until 1974 when the Turks invaded their lush eden and pushed the inhabitants out of their homes forever. Famagusta was quickly and entirely abandoned, fenced off with barbed wire, and left to rot as it stood. Here we are forty years later and, it still stands as it was left all those years ago. How can something like this happen? It boggles my mind. This happened during my time.
Hislop takes her time setting the stage and preparing the tone of her story. The story begins with the building of what will become the most opulent hotel in Famagusta, THE SUNRISE. Ambitious and more ambitious Savvas Papacosta and his bejeweled wife Aphrodite are getting ready to open THE SUNRISE. It’s hard to imagine a more daunting building than this. Five hundred rooms, all fitted out with over-the-top amenities. And a state-of-the-art night club that is being managed by a man Aphrodite despises as much as her husband loves and trusts him. Markos Georgiou is a gorgeous young businessman who has ingratiated himself right smack dab in the middle of the Papacosta’s world.
This finely tuned novel features three families. The Papacosta family own the hotel. There are two families who are entangled in this novel from different sides of the fence. Markos Georgiou’s family is of Greek Cypriot base. Then there is the Ozkan family who are of Turkish Cypriot decent. Opposites who have been living and working together for years.
What happens to the three families when the Turks invade? The hotel owners flee. Behind them they leave Markos with the keys to the kingdom, literally. And the Georgiou and Ozkan families can not leave for different reasons. So where do they go? You will see this coming, and, in fact, it is told on the back of the book. The two families hide in the deserted hotel. And this is when the story really gets going I loved learning the history of this place. Hislop has never set foot in Famagusta. It simply is not allowed. However, I found a photo of her just outside the wires. The novel she has written authentically tells the history of this “lost ghost town” in a way that makes you hungry to learn more.
As these three families are put to the test they discover in the worst of times that they have more in common than not. The experiences shared during times of unmeasurable agony and loss are the cement of their future.
I found THE SUNRISE a rich novel full of history and interesting characters that I will never forget. I will say that this novel grew on me. I would like to have known more about the character of Markos and even more background on Aprhodite. But all in all the novel is stellar. A great read for anytime of the year. You can be sure my Maurice On Books pine table will be piled high with copies of THE SUNRISE by Victoria Hislop as soon as they come into my store, this week. Stop by and pick one up!
You’ll love the beautiful cover. It could quite possibly change your plans. You may just find yourself on the computer looking up Famagusta:)