I’m thrilled to be co-hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Summer Will Come by Soulla Christodoulou and to share my review of this novel set partly in 1950s Cyprus and partly in London. It made me want to book a holiday to Cyprus right this minute.
About the Book
Set in the 1950s, the story begins in Cyprus. EOKA, British rule, and the fight for Enosis (unity) disrupt the world of two Greek Cypriot families, living in different villages on the island. They are desperately trying to cope with the unpredictability of this fractious time. Circumstances over a five-year period push both families to escape to London where, as immigrants, they struggle to settle, face new challenges, trauma and cope with missing their homeland’s traditions and culture. Both families’ lives cross paths in London and it seems that happier beginnings could be theirs. But at what cost?
A story of passion for a country in turmoil, family love, loyalty and treachery and how, sometimes, starting over isn’t always as imagined.
Format: ebook, paperback (492 pp.) Publisher:
Published: 6th March 2018 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find The Summer Will Come on Goodreads
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.
I received a review copy courtesy of the author and Rachel’s Random Resources in return for an honest and unbiased review.
In three words: Emotional, engaging, hopeful
Try something similar…Letting Go by Maria Thompson Corley (click here to read my review)
About the Author
Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents, Soulla Christodoulou spent much of her childhood living carefree days full of family, school and friends. She was the first in her family to go to university and studied BA Hotel & Catering Management at Portsmouth University. Years later, after having a family of her own she studied again at Middlesex University and has a PGCE in Business Studies and an MA in Education.
Soulla is a fiction author and wrote her first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow over a few months while working full time in secondary education. She is a mother of three boys. She is a compassionate and empathetic supporter of young people. Her passion for teaching continues through private tuition of English Language and Children’s Creative Writing Classes as well as proof reading and other writing services.
Her writing has also connected her with a charity in California which she is very much involved in as a contributor of handwritten letters every month to support and give hope to women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her letters is featured in a book, Dear Friend, released on Amazon in September 2017.
When asked, Soulla will tell you she has always, somewhere on a subconscious level, wanted to write and her life’s experiences both personal and professional have played a huge part in bringing her to where she was always meant to be; writing books and drinking lots of cinnamon and clove tea!
She also has a poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, published on Amazon. The Summer Will Come is her second novel. She is currently working on a third novel Trust is a Big Word about an online illicit relationship that develops between two people.
Connect with Soulla