Monday, July 13, 2015

Just Out July 7th From Harper - The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop Takes Readers into 1974 Coup in Cyprus!

President Makarios

Nikos Sampson, the leader of the coup

Greek military coup of July 1974

In the spring of 1974, Greek Cypriot intelligence discovered that EOKA-B was planning a coup against President Makarios which was sponsored by the military junta of Athens.


Mr.  and Mrs. Papacosta
request the pleasure of your company
at the Paradise Patio
6:30 p.m.

Now, as Savvas and Aphroditi moved through to the patio to greet their guests, a few dozen people were already gathered there, all of them looking out to sea. It was impossible not to be mesmerized by the sight. In the balmy early-evening light, there was a rosy tint to the sky, the sun was still warm on the skin and the lithe bodies of the boys who lingered to play games of volleyvall on the beach were sharply defined by the shadows. It seemed entirely credible that Aproditi, the Goddess of Love, might have been born on this island. It was a place to be in love with life itself.

There was a pattern and rhythm to the way the couple circulated, asking guests how they had spent the day, listening patiently to descriptions of wonderful swimming, clear waters, perhaps an excursion to see the medieval city. They had heard everything before but exclaimed politely as if it was for the first time.

In the corner of the room, a young French pianist moved his pale fingers seamlessly from one jazz favourite to another. The sound of chattering voices and clinking ice drowned out his music here as in every other venue. Every evening he made a journey along the row of hotels, playing for an hour in each one. At five in the morning he would put down the lid of the Steinway at The Savoy, the last of the bars where he had a nightly engagement. He would then sleep until later afternoon and be back at The Paradise Beach for six fifteen.
Savvas was shorter and stouter than most of his northern European clientele, but his suit was better cut than any in the room. Similarly, his wife's clothes were always more chic than those of their guests. However dell dressed they were, whether from London, Paris or even the United States, none of the women matched Aphroditi for glamour. Though the American was more than ten years her senior, Aphroditi cultivated a Jackie O style. She had always loved the way Jackie dressed, more than ever since her marriage to Aristotle Onassis, every magazine was full of her image. For years Aphroditi had devoured everything to do with her icon, from the days when she had refurbished the White House and entertained foreign dignitaries with cocktails, to more recent times with
 images of her on islands so far away from Cyprus. Jackie's was the style she favoured: immaculately tailored but feminine.
Though the whole impression was flawless, it was her jewellery that made Aphroditi stand out. Most women bought a necklace of bracelet to go with an outfit, but Aphroditi had dresses made to match her jewellery. Usually this reflected a classic Cypriot design but sometimes it had a more modern touch. When people met Aphroditi and were reminded of Jackie Onassis, they sometimes doubted whether Aristotle's gifts to his wife matched up to those given by Savvas Papacosta to his...

The Sunrise

By Victoria Hislop

No matter what the novel, I am always first attracted to the characters that people the book. In The Sunrise, we meet a couple who are both rich and well-known in their area of Cyprus--Famagusta. The Island had gained independence and President Makarios was in office at the beginning of the story. Islanders were called Cypriots and had been living there for many years. Some were called Greek Cypriots due to their heritage while the other primary group was Turkish Cypriots. There was a blend of people--working together in the largest industry--tourism... There was a need for all to support the island and many became good friends, no matter their background...

Why is it that some people are allowed to use their prejudices, their hatreds to stir up trouble. It happens over and over, all over the world... While America was dealing with Watergate and the world watched, rumblings and secret meetings and solicitation of supporters was beginning in Cyprus...
And before the end of the book, this beautiful island had been destroyed by bombings, forced evacuation and...all those vicious actions that take place during war...  The island had been split and the portion of Cyprus, which included Famagusta--including The Sunrise--had been enclosed with wire fences!

Savvas and Aphroditi had owned a hotel in Famagusta and were in the process of building The Sunrise, which would be the most luxurious and beautiful hotel on the island...

For Savvas, we watch as he becomes immersed in a greedy need for biggest and best...and more and more... At the same time Aphroditi, who had worked on the interior decisions for The Sunrise, feeling part of the whole organization, was now pushed aside, with little to do. Worse, her father had died and left all his property to Aphroditi. Savvas convinced her to immediately sell all of it and put it to work on their (his) growing empire... Aphroditi was stripped of all of her wealth, except for the jewels that Savvas would give to her. Seemingly to show her off as the wife of the Great Papacosta!

During the years Aphroditi had been married and chose her Jacki O style, she had become friends with the two women who ran a local beauty shop. When the opening of The Sunrise was nearing, it was arranged that they move their shop into the Hotel...For Savvas it was good business since it showed the inclusiveness of the hotel, using both Greek and Turkish Cypriots in all parts of the Hotel. For Aphroditi, it meant continuing her growing friendship with the women... The Turkish family is one of the three families that are spotlighted in the novel. What happens as they are, finally, the last Turkish family who had not left the island is both heartwarming and illustrative of the reality that hate really is only a learned response for strangers, but not for people who have become your friends...

Inhaling the dust of the building site for fourteen hours a day and poring over paperwork for several more, Savvas Papacosta considered that he worked harder than any other man in Cyprus.
The hours that his right-hand man worked were almost as many. Over the past months, with the Clair de Lune and all his other new responsibilities in the hotel, Markos had spent at least sixteen hours a day at The Sunrise, but he needed little sleep so he did not complain...

The third family we meet through Markos who has become an important second man in Savvas' Sunrise hotel. He was given total control of developing The Claire de Lune, the hotel's nightclub... The atmosphere in the club was so very different from the rest of the hotel, which Aphroditi has controlled and when she saw it for the first time, she hated it. Of course, the club setting had been designed for the night, for different lighting, and for the acoustics needed for the many forms of entertainment that would be provided.

Most of all she hated it because it became the central money-making location and Savvas was so thrilled that he began to put more and more responsibility on Markos while he began to think what he was going to build with the money that Aphroditi's inheritance had brought to him!

But the final indignity was when Savvas was so committed to his latest creation that he had more or less put Markos in charge, and required him to play host opposite Aphroditi at all formal functions at The Sunrise... Once again, the place of partnership that her wealth should have provided at The Sunrise,  had been she had to suffer Markos and acknowledge her jealousy of his relationship to her husband and The Sunrise...

Markos moved between the two co-existing worlds.
The kaleidoscopic tourist playground of blue sky,
warm sea, bikinis and cocktails was real enough,
but where the sun did not penetrate, there were
shadowy places where activities of a different kind
took place. Though he never opened the parcels
that he ferried on an almost daily basis now,
Markos knew that they must contain the tool kits
for terrorism, usually stolen from the police:
guns, ammunition, detonators and other
ingredients for bomb-making. Carefree holiday
makers had no idea what was happening
around them, and in the case of The Sunrise,
beneath their rooms. The vault was now an
This is not an easy book to read, although the author has created an outstanding family drama within the realities of a war zone... I wondered most whether the lives of the characters as presented would have been different if the coup had not proceeded... Markos in particular was loved by everybody, but readers begin to see another side of him as time goes on... Can you blame him? Maybe... But, he had been working his head off taking on more and more responsibilities but Savvas had never rewarded him with a change of title to show his present scope of responsibilities, nor had he given him any increase in salary...

When he was given the responsibility of acting as host to hostess Aphroditi, was he totally out to take advantage of her or did he really begin to care for her as a beloved woman and friend? For we will see what happens to Aphroditi after she has fallen deeply in love with Markos and faces an unexpected pregnancy...

And while that was all happening, Markos had stayed with his family, the last Greek Cypriots to stay in Famagusta...ultimately joining with the last Turkish family to try to survive as the Soldiers invaded each home, stealing, killing...and more...

Don't expect a good ending to the novel. Can it be anything other than the truth of the lives of those individuals who are affected by the devastation of war? The novel is provocative, intriguing, and epic in the breadth of the story itself. I was impressed by the author's obvious knowledge of the history and the setting as well as her ability to establish the tension and fear of characters as they are forced to hide or run for their lives, reacting to a totally unexpected attack, while trying to deal with the thousands of tourists who were visiting there and now caught in a place where no place and no people could really be totally trusted...

An amazing story for your consideration, featuring both a historical tale of an important coup in 1974, as well as deep family drama! Do check it out!


Victoria Hislop is the international bestselling author of The Island, The Return. and others In the United Kingdom, she writes travel features for The Sunday Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday, House and Garden, and Woman's Home. The Island sold over a million copies in the UK and has been translated into 24 languages. Victoria's second novel, The Return, has been published in more than a dozen languages. She lives in Kent, with her husband Ian and their two children.

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