The island of Cyprus provides the setting for this novel of politics and romance as the action moves from the pastoral to the volatile.
The title alludes to an upscale hotel the Papacostas family is building, for the summer of 1972 is a prosperous time in Famagusta, a tourist mecca on the island. Savvas and Aphroditi Papacostas are a power couple. They already own a small hotel, the Paradise Beach, but realize how lucrative a high-rise hotel and nightclub could be, so they engage in a building project to bring upscale amenities to their new property. At first all goes well, as elegant Aphroditi and her driven husband do everything they can to ensure the success of their enterprise. The nightclub is to be run by Markos Georgiou, in whom Savvas has great confidence and for whom Aphroditi has great antipathy—at least initially. When Savvas embarks on another project, however—the renovation of the Paradise Beach—Aphroditi begins to feel lonely and finds comfort in the arms of Markos. And then, in 1974, the political situation radically changes, as Turkish troops invade Cyprus. The recently installed democratic government in Greece has its own preoccupations and has neither the time nor the energy to devote to Greek Cypriots. Savvas and Aphroditi must flee Famagusta and go to the British base of Dhekelia before settling into an apartment in Nicosia owned by Aphroditi’s parents. Meanwhile, Markos and his family take refuge with some Turkish Cypriots in the now-abandoned Sunrise Hotel, and together they face an occupied and increasingly dangerous city.
Hislop captures well the dreamy and Edenic time before the occupation as well as the fear and chaos afterward.