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Saturday, January 8, 2011

'Aphrodite's War' by Andrea BUSFIELD

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

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...

The year is 1955 and the little island of Cyprus is in tumult and fighting for independence from outdated British colonial rule. The island is being torn apart by war from three sides; against Greece, Turkey and the British Empire.

The Encomidou family is living in the fallout of their own turmoil, as their eldest of four sons is killed in the fighting.

With his brother’s death, Loukis Encomidou gets a taste for revenge and joins a militia unit who take their fight to the mountains. Loukis leaves behind his two remaining brothers, and the girl he loves. . .

Praxi awaits her beloveds return, but in the years that Loukis is gone her world is turned upside down.

Loukis returns, beaten and weary from the fight, only to face a whole new battle of the heart when he learns the path his darling Praxi has taken.

‘Aphrodite’s War’ is the second novel by British author Andrea Busfield.

I came to the novel with next to no knowledge of the Greek-Turkish Cypriot tensions, or colonial rule of the island. The most I knew about Cyprus was that the island had, at some point, experienced war. But by novel’s end I was well and truly educated by Ms Busfield on Cyprus’s tumultuous history, which was as interesting to me as the focal love story.

The war story is fascinating. I intend to pass this book onto my father because I know that the ins and outs of political and patriotic tensions will intrigue him, as well as the more nitty gritty impacts of war as experienced by Loukis.
“We need Grivas,” Yiannis agreed, refilling Victor’s empty glass for the fourth time that night.
“Perhaps,” Victor admitted. “We certainly need a man with his eye fixed on the prize if we’re to bring Cyprus back into the arms of the motherland.” Pausing to give Yiannis a confident smile, he added, “Our people belong together.”
And with that he leaned forward and delivered the promise Yiannis had been waiting for.
Busfield writes a delicate and (from my limited perspective) balanced story of Cyprus’s history... She delves into the countries sordid past of empiric rule (from the Ottoman to Greek, Egyptian and most recently, British) and how the Cypriots coped with their grapple for independence. Maybe it’s a little thing, but I also enjoyed and gained insights from the little excerpts of United Nations documents, revealing how little interest the assembly seemed to have in the island’s infighting.

‘Aphrodite’s War’ is a love story and a story of war – but often those lines blur and disintegrate amidst Busfield’s haunting storytelling , when the devastations of war and the ruins of the heart hold equal weight and fascination for the reader. I did enjoy the political and war-related storytelling, but as a female reader I best responded to the heartbreaking tale of Loukis and Praxi.

I don’t want to give much away, but through these tragic lovers Busfield is able to explore the deeper implications of love, loss and betrayal that are magnified by the wartime backdrop. I cried and I felt infinite frustration on the character’s behalf. I can safely say that ‘Aphrodite’s War’ is one book that, upon finishing, you will miss and be haunted by the characters you met. . .
Praxi laughed, and Loukis took the jacket they has been lying on to place it around her shoulders.
“God, I love it here,” she sighed.
“Me too.”
“So how can you leave?”
“Because I love you more.” Loukis turned his head so she could see the truth of it in his eyes.
I have never been to Cyprus, but I could tell that Busfield (who started her career as a globe-trotting journalist) has lived there, and holds a great affection for the island. It’s there in the descriptions of market life and family dinners, of the countryside and seaside. ‘Aphrodite’s War’ may be a love story and a war story, but above all it’s an ode to Cyprus, and having read the island through Busfield’s eyes I would now love to go and visit.
“We’ll be back one day,” Loukis whispered, as if reading her thoughts. But Praxi wasn’t so sure. They both knew it was hard to return once you’d run away.
‘Aphrodite’s War’ is a haunting novel. . . It’s one of those books that aren’t over when you read the last page. You will carry the story with you for days afterwards, turning the characters and their actions over in your mind, thinking on the outcomes and motivations and feeling a small sense of loss that you can’t go back and meet them anew all over again. Andrea Busfield is a magnificent storyteller, and ‘Aphrodite’s War’ is one hell of a story.

5/5


2 comments:

  1. wow great review as usual Dani!

    Thanks for putting this one on my radar =D

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds incredibly interesting! From your description and review I think it's exactly the type of book I would like. Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete