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.
When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.
Despite hearing about Victoria Hislop, I hadn’t read any of her books. This one arrived to review, and I was intrigued by the idea that she had based her historical story in an existing ghost town. Varosha, within Famagusta, was well known for it’s desirable high rise hotels, and famous visitors. After the population fled, the area was fenced off, and remains that way even today. Apparently the hotels are now crumbling away, and nature is reclaiming the area. I would love to go and see it.
Hislop’s story tells of the rise of the hotels and their owner, and of various visitors to, and residents of the area. She then takes you through the conflict, and it’s effects on them all. The power behind this book is the story telling – I wasn’t sure what to expect, and didn’t know if I would read it, but once I started, I couldn’t give up. The characters creep up on you, and simply had to know what happened. The descriptions are vivid and easily imagined. Highly recommended, and I will be looking out for more from this author.