The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

James Walton 

"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. "

The Sunrise 

by Victoria Hislop (Headline, £9.99; ebook, £9.49)

The Sunrise, Victoria Hislop

In the early 1970s, Famagusta in Cyprus was one of Europe’s most glamorous resorts, which these days lies entirely deserted. How this happened forms the background—and sometimes the foreground—to this new novel by Victoria Hislop, who ever since her best-selling debut The Island has had the sharp idea of combining the conventions of the blockbuster with fascinating slices of 20th-century history.

Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 causes the guests to flee The Sunrise hotel, followed by the town’s population—except for one Turkish and one Greek family, who refuse either to leave or to become enemies. With their food running out and murderous soldiers all around, how long can they survive?

Hislop’s respect for those blockbuster conventions means the central story is essentially a melodrama. Admittedly a pretty irresistible one—but even so, it’s the history stuff that steals the show, with the transformation of Famagusta into a ghost town both clearly explained and powerfully evoked.

Find out which books changed Victoria Hislop's life, click here.

Read more articles by James Walton here