Book Club June 2016: The Sunrise, by Victoria Hislop (No spoilers!)

I love reading. I always have, ever since my parents taught me to read when I was a child. I read my way through all of the books owned by my nursery school, and then I remember being told in y5 of primary school that I was now onto the brown-stickered books. Well, I think there were about 2 of those, and to my 9-year-old eyes they looked like War and Peace. Definitely not something I was interested in. But I’m pretty sure I read them anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever met a book I didn’t like (well, the actual War and Peace and I had some disagreements. I got bored with the fighting chapters so I admit to skipping a lot of those).

But anyway. I have just finished reading a book by Victoria Hislop, The Sunrise. This book baffled me from start to end, which is maybe why I was so hooked by the end of it. It focuses on two Cypriot families; one Greek, one Turkish, and their time in hiding during the 1972 bombing and evacuation of Famagusta, the islands most popular tourist hotspot at the time.

The premise of the book was good. I enjoyed the historical setting and the real-life feeling of the storyline – it wasn’t just an interesting story, the background gave it so much extra interest.

The characters were engaging but not particularly likeable – I did feel pity for some of them (Aphrodite, the matriarchs of both Cypriot families and Huseyin, who started off the book a young boy and was forced to grow up very quickly) but I didn’t feel any emotional attachment and I certainly didn’t like or love any of them. I’d say by the end of the book, I was mildly interested as to their fate, since I had been reading about them for the last 400 pages, but nothing more.

I think the problem I had with this book was that there were too many parts to the story. Too many characters who I cared very little about and too many random occurrences between which I couldn’t see any links. I was halfway through the book when I said to my mum that I couldn’t see where the story was going. I didn’t feel that by the end, but it could have gotten there a lot faster!

Since finishing the book, I’ve done a little bit of research about Famagusta, and the real-life ghost town of Varosha, which to this day is still under Turkish military control and civilians are not allowed entry. It’s such an interesting story, and I don’t think the author does it justice. The way those people must have felt to be leaving their home with no idea of what would come next, could make for some powerful reading, but not in this book.

All in all, I would give this book 3 stars. It kept me interested, didn’t require too much thinking, but it didn’t give me that ‘wow’ moment when I finished reading it. When I finish a book, if I’m not sad that it’s over and wishing for more, it isn’t a good book…

… After finishing this one, I popped it on the floor and reached for my next read: Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time.


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