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Ten great books set in Cyprus

9th July 2021

Cyprus is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Ten great books set in Cyprus. Cyprus is an island nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, and is located south of Turkey; west of Syria; northwest of Lebanon, Israel and the Gaza Strip; north of Egypt; and southeast of Greece. It is a very popular resort with European tourists,

We have no bread to eat yet we seek a radish – Cypriot proverb

Ten great books set in CyprusThe Evolution of Fear by Paul E Hardisty

Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit, his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. Betrayed by those closest to him, he must flee the sanctuary of his safe house in Cornwall and track her down. As his pursuers close in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then to Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill and endurance to save Rania and put an end to the unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit. Gripping, exhilarating and, above all, frighteningly realistic, The Evolution of Fear is a startling, eye-opening read that demands the question: How much is truth, and how much is fiction?

The Olive Tree by Lucinda Riley

A magical house. A momentous summer.

It has been twenty-four years since a young Helena spent a magical holiday in Cyprus, where she fell in love for the first time. When the now crumbling house, ‘Pandora’, is left to her by her godfather, she returns to spend the summer there with her family.

Yet, as soon as Helena arrives at Pandora, she knows that its idyllic beauty masks a web of secrets that she has kept from William, her husband, and Alex, her son. At the difficult age of thirteen, Alex is torn between protecting his beloved mother, and growing up. And equally, desperate to learn the truth about his real father . . .

When, by chance, Helena meets her childhood sweetheart, a chain of events is set in motion that threatens to make her past and present collide. Both Helena and Alex know that life will never be the same, once Pandora’s secrets have been revealed . . .

Ten great books set in CyprusThe Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

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.

Ten great books set in CyprusSongbirds by Christy Lefteri

The follow-up to the global bestseller The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Songbirds is a heart-breaking story for our times.

She walks unseen through our world.
Cares for our children, cleans our homes.
Her voice unheard.
She has a story to tell.
Will you listen?

Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter, Aliki; at night she mothers her own in Sri Lanka by the light of a phone.

Nisha’s lover is Yiannis, a poacher, who hunts the tiny songbirds as they migrate to Cyprus on their way to Africa each winter. He dreams of finding a new way of life, of marrying Nisha.

When Nisha disappears, little Aliki insists she wouldn’t simply run away; they must find her. As Petra learns to take care of Aliki herself, she comes to understand the woman she barely knew, and realises only she and Yiannis will bother to look for her. What they uncover will change them all.

Set on her native Cyprus, Christy Lefteri has crafted a powerful, redemptive story of loss, of the triumph of the human spirit, and of the enduring love of a mother for her child.

Ten great books set in CyprusThe Way it Breaks by Polis Loizou

Orestis is a young man who refuses to accept his lot in life. He wants a better job, a toned body, his own place, a brighter future. On a night out, he bumps into an old school friend who lands him an interview at her father’s five-star hotel. Orestis feels he is finally on the path to success. That is, until he becomes acquainted with a high-end gigolo who draws him onto a different path – one that takes him to a wealthy Belarusian trophy wife named Darya. Before long, Orestis’ destiny drifts even further out of his control.

Set in Cyprus, THE WAY IT BREAKS is a modern tale about fate and free will; love and boundaries; and the value of a human being.

Between the Orange Groves by Nadia Marks

In a small village, set among the wild mountains of Cyprus, two families of different faiths share a seemingly unbreakable friendship based on mutual respect and deep affection. Mothers and daughters share their daily secrets, fathers and sons support each other as they live their lives between the fragrant pine trees and orange groves. It’s here that two boys, Lambros and Orhan, grow up side by side, as close as brothers. Their lives are inextricably linked, but as their fortunes shift and time passes, an unforgivable act of betrayal takes place, setting in motion a chain of events that tears the two friends and their entire families apart . . .

Many decades later and now an old man living in London, Lambros decides to share his painful memories with his daughter Stella; transporting her back to an island brimming with passion and at its heart a scandal that still haunts those involved. Is it too late for forgiveness? Or can the next generation embark on a journey of their own to help mend the damage done all those years ago?

Swimming to Ithaca by Simon Mawer

On her deathbed, Dee Denham, at one time the toast of colonial Cyprus, tells her son Thomas that her illness is a punishment. Compelled by grief and a confused childhood memory of betrayal, Thomas finds himself searching for the meaning of her last words. He searches through faded photographs and love letters, seeks out survivors and examines his own imperfect recollections. A vanished world comes to life: the restless, seductive island of Cyprus at the end of Empire, a place of oleander and carob trees, cocktails at the Harbour Club and adultery in shuttered bedrooms, peopled by ghostly admirers and conspirators, lovers and spies. Dee’s story, an intimate history of violence and tenderness for which Thomas finds himself quite unprepared, gathers momentum, against, in the background, the ominous roar of approaching disaster.

A vivid evocation of the past and a deft examination of the dangerous power of memory, SWIMMING TO ITHACA sets fragile human relationships against the unstoppable force of history and sheds new light on both.

Aphrodite’s War by Andrea Busfield

The island is divided in two, but one man’s love will never be compromised . . .

Cyprus, 1955 – a war is raging and four Greek brothers are growing up to the familiar sounds of exploding bombs and sniper fire.

Determined to avenge the death of his elder brother and to win the heart of his beloved Praxi, young Loukis joins a cell of schoolboy terrorists operating in the mountains. But when his cohorts blow themselves up in a freak accident, he returns home in shock, yearning for the warm embrace of his family – and of his sweetheart.

But his adored Praxi is now married to someone else, and playing at her feet is a young toddler.

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus is Lawrence Durrell’s unique account of his time in Cyprus, during the 1950s Enosis movement for freedom of the island from British colonial rule. Winner of the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, it is a document at once personal, poetic and subtly political – a masterly combination of travelogue, memoir and treatise.

‘He writes as an artist, as well as a poet; he remembers colour and landscape and the nuances of peasant conversation . . . Eschewing politics, it says more about them than all our leading articles . . . In describing a political tragedy it often has great poetic beauty.’ Kingsley Martin, New Statesman

‘Durrell possesses exceptional qualifications. He speaks Greek fluently; he has a wide knowledge of modern Greek history, politics and literature; he has lived in continental Greece and has spent many years in other Greek islands . . . His account of this calamity is revelatory, moving and restrained. It is written in the sensitive and muscular prose of which he is so consummate a master.’ Harold Nicolson

Journey into Cyprus by Colin Thubron

It was an unique journey – a 600 mile trek on foot around Cyprus, in the last year of the island’s peace. Colin Thubron writes about it and with great immediacy, intertwining myth, history and personal anecdote. What emerges is a tapestry from which characters and places, architectures and landscape all spring vividly to life.

As a guide to the island and its survival through centuries of turmoil, JOURNEY INTO CYPRUS is invaluable. As a fine narrative of travel, it is compelling.

“Thubron worked hard to know Cyprus. He is a sympathetic observer, but also a candid one. He never lets sentiment or expectation get in the way of truth.”

What an amazing selection of books there is in Cyprus! If you have any to add to the list, please do so in the Comments below…

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  1. User: Derek Harper

    Posted on: 03/08/2021 at 4:08 pm

    I’ve just read a good spy thriller titled Island of Fear set in Cyprus in 1974 and features Nicosia International Airport and the port of Limassol as well as some more remote areas. The story captures the crisis extremely well.

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