Reviews

My Book Reviews…

Book reviews…

TSWC – Cathy of What Cathy Read Next posted this wonderfully perceptive and in-depth review, of my newly released novel The Summer Will Come, on 20th March 2018 available on AMAZON.

Emotional, engaging story set in 1950s Cyprus and London

The Summer Will Come tells the story of two Cypriot families both affected by the unrest on the island resulting from the struggle for Cypriot independence that took place in the 1950s. The reader sees events from the points of view of Elena and her mother, Evangelia, and Christaki and his father, Loizos.

The author does a great job of communicating the atmosphere of rising tension and fear on the island as families and communities are split by support for one side or the other. Supporters of the nationalist organisation EOKA risk arrest, internment, interrogation (and potentially worse) by the British authorities as they smuggle coded messages and hold secret meetings. It’s a time of curfews, informers, repression and often violent reprisals.

However, the book is not all doom and gloom. There are wonderful descriptions of the landscape of Cyprus and, for those of us in the United Kingdom currently enduring snow and overcast skies, enticing depictions of blue skies, hot days and balmy nights. In addition, there are some evocative descriptions of food that literally made my stomach rumble as I was reading them. ‘Elena imagined paklava, galatoboureko, pitoues, daktila and kateifi, the sweet filo and shortcrust pastries bursting with chopped pistachios, almonds and thick yellow custard sitting together in a warm goo of syrup’. (By the way, there is a really helpful glossary at the back of the book including, for those not on a diet, mouth-watering descriptions of Cypriot pastries and desserts.)

Eventually both families are forced to leave Cyprus to seek a new life in England. For Elena, her twin brother, Andreas, and their mother, Evangelia, the journey offers the prospect of being reunited with their father, Kostas. For Christaki, his brother and sister and, in particular, his mother, Anastasia, it’s a chance to leave traumatic memories behind.

However, the move to England brings fresh challenges for both families. The author brilliantly conveys the contrast between their life in Cyprus and their experience of London. There are obvious things like the cold weather and different food. ‘She felt like she was always shrouded in grey; she could barely see the buildings, the streets, the sky, the landscape from a few hundred yards away.’ But also less obvious things, such as the dirty, dingy housing, the multi-racial nature of London and the noise. ‘It was not the peaceful sound of the lapping waves of the sea in Limassol. No, it was a different world, a noisy one.’ And they find it difficult to adjust to the different pace of life as well. ‘Loizos noticed how those around him seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere; a complete contrast to life in Cyprus, or at least life as it used to be before the Cyprus tragedy, with trundling buses, slow donkeys and hours spent in the kafenion.’

I loved the little details like the families’ surprise that in England olive oil is only available from a pharmacist! There’s a lovely sense of the atmosphere of the 1950s – the fashion, the music and things like the opening of the first Wimpy Bars! However, there are also forceful reminders of the darker side of life.

Conflict arises as the younger members of both families – especially the female members – seek to take advantage of the freedom enjoyed by their peers whilst their parents cling to the traditions of Cyprus, including the custom of arranging introductions between members of the opposite sex and the expected behaviour of girls. ‘The women in the village were raised to be passive and accepting of their role in life; to marry well, be respectful wives and loving mothers…’ When connections within the Cypriot community eventually (and perhaps inevitably) bring two members of the families together, this reader certainly had a clear idea of the resolution she desired.

I really enjoyed The Summer Will Come. I loved learning about the culture and traditions of Cyprus. My only minor niggle (and it is minor) is that the book felt slightly longer than it needed to be. For instance, there was a section set in Blackpool that I felt could have been removed entirely. However, I found the parts of the book set in Cyprus absolutely fascinating and the story of the two families once they moved to London really compelling. If you love historical fiction that is rich in cultural detail and rooted in actual events, then The Summer Will Come will not disappoint.”

The Summer Will Come is available here.

 

BPOT – Sylvia Valevicius‘s review for Broken Pieces of Tomorrow was posted on goodreads on January 8th, 2018 and her review totally ‘gets’ the main character’s journey in all its painful yet blossoming beauty and the inevitable ugliness surrounding the breakdown of her world.

“It was amazing…bookshelves: fiction
In spite of the title, ‘Broken Pieces of Tomorrow,’ which suggests disappointments for the protagonist, Georgia, I found this novel to be a highly enjoyable read! At first, I thought it was a memoir, but it works well as a novel, seemingly autobiographical in nature. The author, Soulla Christodoulou, makes this book fun. It’s so well- written, one can step right into Georgia’s shoes and take on her experiences – – quite a trip, at that! I found it an excellent progression of story. The novel grows on you as the passage of life does with its ups and downs and mysteries. The author makes you want to read more as she engages the reader in each segment of circumstances in which the protagonist finds herself. The reader experiences the delicious classic case of what will happen next. The reader is never sure of relationship outcomes which is Georgia’s plight. The protagonist second-guesses herself, frequently a relatable condition when one’s life’s turns upside down: “She bit down on her lip, annoyed with herself for telling him too much, explaining herself. She always did that with Nicolas too.” She learns about herself along the way.

True to life, this novel contains its racy bits so prepare yourself; for the most part, Soulla makes it amusing and intriguing. She tells it like it is in everyday (sometimes raw) language, and gets away with it because of her funny and personable nature which simply shines throughout this book.

 

In the midst of a busy holiday season, I really couldn’t wait to finish my chores and preparations each day to pick up this novel, relax, and simply enjoy what’s going on in Georgia’s life. I can see why this book is a ‘fan favourite.’ Thanks, Soulla. I felt like one of Georgia’s friends! And now I want to give her advice, too :))”

Broken Pieces of Tomorrow is available here.

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