The Sunrise, by Victoria Hislop

‘Clunk, clunk, clunk’ went this book as I carried it around with me in my bag, day after day. Relentless, it was, with its weighty clunking. When I set my bag down on a café table, knowing then would be a good time to crack on with a couple of chapters; I just couldn’t bring myself to. Whenever I did muster the will to press on with The Sunrise it gave me the depressing feeling that the sun was in fact setting on my life. It has been said I am prone to hyperbole and melodrama, however.

‘Clunk’ is not a particularly descriptive word, granted, but it’s the only one that comes to mind after reading what could have been a riveting portrayal of the lives of two neighbouring families both living in Famagusta, a city in Cyprus; the rumblings of the Greek coup of 1972 growing louder and louder as the narrative unfolds. The families’ stories intermingle as they work in the most luxurious hotel on the island – one family (the proprietors of said hotel) Greek Cypriot, one family Turkish Cypriot. Sounding interesting? Unfortunately, it just isn’t.

From the outset the characters and dialogue seem stilted and clunky, as though Victoria Hislop has never actually had a chat with another human being and is unaware of conversational convention. Some of the character interaction, especially between the novels troubled lovers and hotel owners, Savvas and Aphroditi, is painfully trite and a just a bit cringe-worthy.

Undoubtedly, historically speaking, this novel is impressively well researched and one can tell that the author has incredible knowledge about the Greek coup d’état of 1967, leading to years of fallout and military junta rule. Hislop obviously knows this location in the Mediterranean like the back of her hand. There are some beautiful descriptions of landscapes, architecture; of the sweeping majesty of such a beautiful part of the world, but there just aren’t enough ways in the world to describe a beautiful Cypriot sunset to redeem the ultimately dull qualities of The Sunrise.

1 comment… add one

Chelsea Lee is a twenty-something university dropout. She has a penchant for 80s synth pop. She lives, reluctantly, in Auckland and enjoys the works of miserable existentialists and misanthropes.

  • CA March 12, 2015, 12:02 am

    Entertaining and well-written review.


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