There’s nothing we love more at the “Friend” than talking about our favourite books and current reads. Take a look at Fiction Editor, Lucy’s, “Songbirds” book review.
“Songbirds”, by Christy Lefteri, begins in present-day Cyprus.
When migrant worker Nisha vanishes, her employer, Petra, knows that something is seriously wrong.
By day, Nisha nannies for Petra’s daughter, Aliki. By night, Nisha Facetimes her own daughter, who’s being raised by relatives back home in Sri Lanka.
The Plight Of Migrant Workers
An unspoken rule also means Nisha is forbidden from having any kind of personal relationships.
Even friendships are discouraged, although this hasn’t stopped Nisha from forming an attachment to a neighbour, Yiannis.
A former bank executive, Yiannis now makes ends meet by foraging and poaching.
It’s his sad duty to trap and kill songbirds illegally, for his intimidating employer (and childhood friend), Seraphim.
An Uneasy Coalition
Petra and Yiannis must form an uneasy coalition, if they’re to get to the bottom of Nisha’s disappearance.
The story is told from the viewpoints of both Yiannis, and Petra, with another thread woven between.
Life Without Nisha
Petra struggles to adjust to life without Nisha.
Nisha had been not only a nanny but a mother figure to Aliki, as Petra’s grief for her late husband prevented her forming any real attachment.
The police refuse to take on the case, their feeling being that migrant workers are by nature transitory.
Searching For Answers
In trying to find answers, Petra and Yiannis come to know the reality of life for many of the migrant women.
They’ve left poverty behind, but now face insurmountable debts to their agents, and are trapped into servitude.
When two maids reveal that Nisha’s bracelet has been found near an old, abandoned house, Petra fears the worst – the bracelet was a gift from Aliki, which she always wore.
Unravelling The Mystery
An ally is found in Mr Tony, a Cypriot man whose Limassol café has become a safe place for migrant workers to meet.
But can the three unravel the mystery, and finally discover what’s happened to Nisha?
This story was inspired by the real-life disappearances of five migrant domestic workers and two of their children, in Christy’s native Cyprus.
Christy is the author of best-selling book, “The Beekeeper Of Aleppo”.
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