Victoria Hislop made her mark as a novelist with her story of a leper colony, ‘The Island’, in 2005 and is now promoting her fourth novel ‘The Sunrise’ at the Hay Festival. She disarmed the audience immediately when she expressed her surprise at the turnout in the Telegraph Tent as the Archers were at the BBC stage next door. In addition to her novels, Victoria is an experienced travel journalist, short story writer and has been involved in the development of the Greek television adaptation of ‘The Island’. She has also taken up a role as an ambassador for Lepra.
‘The Sunrise’ takes place in northern Cyprus in 1974 during the Turkish coup which divided Cyprus into 2 zones, the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot areas. The Sunrise in the title is a luxurious, almost vulgar, hotel situated in a seaside resort frequented by the jet-setters of the pre-separation era. The plot is a love story between two families, one Greek and the other Turkish, who are caught up in the conflict and end up taking shelter in the Sunrise hotel.
Victoria Hislop is a feminist (with a small ‘f’ she says) and loves to write about the impact of men’s decisions to go to war on the women caught up in the conflict. She has an in-depth knowledge of Greece and her people and her love of the country is obvious to the observer as she describes her travels there.
Victoria discussed the importance of music as she writes and states that she has one of the largest collections of Greek music of anyone in Britain. The woman herself has a gentle demeanour however expresses a wonderful sense of humour, intelligence and wit which made the session a pleasure to attend.