Wednesday, July 8, 2015
The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop
Cyprus is a gorgeous Mediterranean country, and Famagusta it's most desirable tourist location. There are high-end shops and every luxury a wealthy tourist could desire. In this land of luxury, the most luxurious and sought-after destination was the Sunrise hotel. Opened in 1970 by Savvas and Aphroditi Papacostas, it was a fairytale location.
But there was trouble brewing. Both Turkey and Greece wanted Cyprus as part of their nation. The Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots got along for the most part, but there was tension. This was exacerbated by militant groups that wanted different things; some wanted independence from all other nations, some wanted to become part of Turkey and some wanted to become part of Greece. In 1972, these partisan groups and their escalating tensions boiled over. The result was war and the Turkish Army taking over the island. In a matter of weeks, Famagusta went from the top of the heap to a deserted city behind wire barriers, its people having fled with just the clothes on their backs.
Hislop explores this recent disaster in her novel through the actions of three families. The Papacostas were wealthy and prestigious. The Ozkans and the Georgious families are working class, and indeed some members of the families worked at the Sunrise. One family is Turkish Cypriot, one Greek Cypriot. Each has sons that are caught up in the various fighting factions. They are able to band together despite the fact that they are on differing sides to get through the worst of the war and its attendant hardships. Readers will probably find this new territory. Perhaps they have a vague recollection of Cyprus and its civil war, but this novel takes the reader into a place where those who have everything one day wake to nothing the next. Each reader will question how they would respond to such a situation and whether they are prepared for calamity to strike. This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.