counter create hit Songbirds - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Songbirds

Availability: Ready to download

From the prize-winning author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, a stunning novel about the disappearance of a Sri Lankan nanny and how the most vulnerable people find their voices. It began with a crunch of leaves and earth. So early, so cold, the branches shone with ice. I'd returned to collect the songbirds. They are worth more than their weight in gold. Yiannis is a poacher, tr From the prize-winning author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, a stunning novel about the disappearance of a Sri Lankan nanny and how the most vulnerable people find their voices. It began with a crunch of leaves and earth. So early, so cold, the branches shone with ice. I'd returned to collect the songbirds. They are worth more than their weight in gold. Yiannis is a poacher, trapping the tiny protected songbirds that stop in Cyprus as they migrate each year from Africa to Europe and selling them on the black market. He dreams of finding a new way of life, and of marrying Nisha, who works on the island as a nanny and maid--having left her native Sri Lanka to try to earn enough to support her daughter, left behind and raised by relatives. But Nisha has vanished; one evening, she steps out on a mysterious errand and doesn't return. The police write off her disappearance as just another runaway domestic worker, so her employer, Petra, undertakes the investigation. Petra's unravelling of Nisha's last days in Cyprus lead her to Nisha's friends--other maids in the neighborhood--and to the darker side of a migrant's life, where impossible choices leave them vulnerable, captive, and worse. Based on the real-life disappearance of domestic workers in Cyprus, Christy Lefteri has crafted a poignant, deeply empathetic narrative of the human stories behind the headlines. With infinite tenderness and skill, Songbirds offers a triumphant story of the fight for truth and justice, and of women reclaiming their lost voices.


Compare

From the prize-winning author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, a stunning novel about the disappearance of a Sri Lankan nanny and how the most vulnerable people find their voices. It began with a crunch of leaves and earth. So early, so cold, the branches shone with ice. I'd returned to collect the songbirds. They are worth more than their weight in gold. Yiannis is a poacher, tr From the prize-winning author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, a stunning novel about the disappearance of a Sri Lankan nanny and how the most vulnerable people find their voices. It began with a crunch of leaves and earth. So early, so cold, the branches shone with ice. I'd returned to collect the songbirds. They are worth more than their weight in gold. Yiannis is a poacher, trapping the tiny protected songbirds that stop in Cyprus as they migrate each year from Africa to Europe and selling them on the black market. He dreams of finding a new way of life, and of marrying Nisha, who works on the island as a nanny and maid--having left her native Sri Lanka to try to earn enough to support her daughter, left behind and raised by relatives. But Nisha has vanished; one evening, she steps out on a mysterious errand and doesn't return. The police write off her disappearance as just another runaway domestic worker, so her employer, Petra, undertakes the investigation. Petra's unravelling of Nisha's last days in Cyprus lead her to Nisha's friends--other maids in the neighborhood--and to the darker side of a migrant's life, where impossible choices leave them vulnerable, captive, and worse. Based on the real-life disappearance of domestic workers in Cyprus, Christy Lefteri has crafted a poignant, deeply empathetic narrative of the human stories behind the headlines. With infinite tenderness and skill, Songbirds offers a triumphant story of the fight for truth and justice, and of women reclaiming their lost voices.

30 review for Songbirds

  1. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Songbirds by Christy Lefteri Songbirds brings to light the plight of migrant domestic workers in Cyprus and the writing of this story was partly influenced by real life events, where five migrant domestic worker women and two children went missing. Their disappearances were ignored because they were foreign, and it was only when one of the bodies was found two years later that the murders of these women and children were brought to light. In this story, thirty eight year old Nisha left her native Songbirds by Christy Lefteri Songbirds brings to light the plight of migrant domestic workers in Cyprus and the writing of this story was partly influenced by real life events, where five migrant domestic worker women and two children went missing. Their disappearances were ignored because they were foreign, and it was only when one of the bodies was found two years later that the murders of these women and children were brought to light. In this story, thirty eight year old Nisha left her native Sri Lanka, nine years ago, to find work in Cypress so that she could earn money to support her daughter who she had to leave with relatives in Sri Lanka. Nisha's life is made up of working from 6am to 7pm, six days a week, and during her off time her employer, Petra, requires her to rest in her room so she will be fresh for her domestic duties. There is no hope of seeing her daughter in person, no hope of having time that belongs to herself, no hope of being more than a servant with no voice, in a household that takes her for granted. Petra even seems happy that she knows nothing about Nisha, that she's there to do her bidding, day in, day out. It's not until Nisha disappears one night that Petra begins her search for Nisha and begins to realize that Nisha is a real person, with feelings, family, and desires. Nisha's lover is Yiannis and he asks her to marry him. But then Nisha is gone and he cannot let go of her. He had opened up to her and described his job as a poacher of songbirds and he knows he shattered her view of him forever. It is Yiannis's job as a poacher, with vivid and horrifying descriptions of the mass destruction of the songbirds (by hands and mouth), that made it hard for me to continue reading this book. I know that others have been able to get past this part of the book but my mind could hardly take in the rest of the story as I still can't let go of the descriptions of Yiannis poaching. When Nisha disappears, and both Petra and Yiannis notify authorities, her disappearance it completely dismissed. She's a migrant domestic worker from another country and as far as the authorities are concerned, she's "moved on". Nothing about her is considered, she's a nobody, there are so many more workers looking for jobs, who cares that one worker is gone now. She does not matter to those with the power to do anything about her disappearance. This story has it's beauty and it's message. The plight of the songbirds parallels the plight of the migrant domestic workers in many ways. I bring up the incredibly disturbing descriptions of brutality and destruction for those who have trouble reading such things, as I do. Publication: August 3rd 2021 Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I adored The Beekeeper of Aleppo so I was thrilled to see Lefteri had another one out. This is a sad story, however. It is about a woman who is a domestic worker in Cyprus in order to send funds to her daughter in Sr Lanka. But she disappears. The police unwilling to look into as she is considered a “foreigner”. The neighbour upstairs is in love with her and now fears for her life. The woman she works for has decided to investigate herself. The mastery Lefteri has of telling a story. From the beau I adored The Beekeeper of Aleppo so I was thrilled to see Lefteri had another one out. This is a sad story, however. It is about a woman who is a domestic worker in Cyprus in order to send funds to her daughter in Sr Lanka. But she disappears. The police unwilling to look into as she is considered a “foreigner”. The neighbour upstairs is in love with her and now fears for her life. The woman she works for has decided to investigate herself. The mastery Lefteri has of telling a story. From the beautiful songbirds who are illegally poached and these precious birds who sing even while being caught in a net and death is upon them; and the foreign women working domestically with little choice but to be there and be treated marginally. This is based on the disappearances of some of these domestic migrant workers. The darker side of the world they live in. The imagery of the songbirds is heartbreaking. Beautifully written but one of loss and love. 4.25⭐️

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    I should not have liked this book. A missing person, a suspenseful telling and scenes describing the hunting of songbirds are difficult to read - not my usual fare. Yet, it was impossible not to be taken with this sad and enlightening story. It’s as beautifully written as The Beekeeper of Aleppo, a book that has stayed with me. The novel is inspired by true events of migrant women who went missing in Cyprus and how it came to be is emotionally described in the not to be missed author’s note. Chr I should not have liked this book. A missing person, a suspenseful telling and scenes describing the hunting of songbirds are difficult to read - not my usual fare. Yet, it was impossible not to be taken with this sad and enlightening story. It’s as beautifully written as The Beekeeper of Aleppo, a book that has stayed with me. The novel is inspired by true events of migrant women who went missing in Cyprus and how it came to be is emotionally described in the not to be missed author’s note. Christy Lefteri is the daughter of Cyprian refugees and it is clear that her heart is on every page. I received a copy of this book from Ballantine/Random House through NetGalley.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Thank you, Random House, for the gifted copy. This book! It’s on my list of favorites for 2021, much like The Beekeeper of Aleppo was on my list in 2019!
 Songbirds is the story of Nisha, a Sri Lankan nanny and housekeeper living in Cyprus who disappears. The reader does not meet Nisha in the present, only through the voices of Petra, the woman for whom she works, and Yiannis, her love. There are multiple side stories as well, some of them of the same importance as the main story. From the very st Thank you, Random House, for the gifted copy. This book! It’s on my list of favorites for 2021, much like The Beekeeper of Aleppo was on my list in 2019!
 Songbirds is the story of Nisha, a Sri Lankan nanny and housekeeper living in Cyprus who disappears. The reader does not meet Nisha in the present, only through the voices of Petra, the woman for whom she works, and Yiannis, her love. There are multiple side stories as well, some of them of the same importance as the main story. From the very start we know that Nisha is missing, and the eerie tension builds and builds. Has she been kidnapped? Did she go back to Sri Lanka? Much like with The Beekeeper, Christy Lefteri shines a light on some important issues. The primary focus is how domestic worker are treated in some places, with very long days, little time off, and living far away from their families because it’s the only way to support them. Also important is that when multiple workers went missing, the police did not wish to investigate, seeing the women as less than. There’s a tie-in between this storyline and actual missing people, and the author’s note is not to be missed. Also of importance to the storyline are the gorgeous songbirds who are poached and consumed as a delicacy. All of the wildlife is depicted with such stunning writing. I was reading another book, Migrations, about wildlife on the verge of extinction at the same time as Songbirds. The parallels were not lost on me. I highly recommend both books. Christy Lefteri has become a new favorite author. I admire her commitment to the research in her novels. She says that she writes to learn something new, and I have certainly learned many new things thanks to her efforts. Thank you to my dear friend, Beth, for the great discussion, and to Taylor Noel and Christy Lefteri for the fabulous introduction to the book last week! Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    As a fan of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, I was anxious to see what Lefteri would write next. Songbirds explores the disappearance of a Sri Lankan maid/nanny from her employer’s home on the island of Cyprus. Nisha had worked for Petra for nine years and was more of a mother to Aliki than Petra. But the police just blow off her disappearance, assuming she had left for better employment possibilities. SoPetra undertakes to investigate on her own. Yiannis is Petra’s upstairs tenant and is in love with N As a fan of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, I was anxious to see what Lefteri would write next. Songbirds explores the disappearance of a Sri Lankan maid/nanny from her employer’s home on the island of Cyprus. Nisha had worked for Petra for nine years and was more of a mother to Aliki than Petra. But the police just blow off her disappearance, assuming she had left for better employment possibilities. SoPetra undertakes to investigate on her own. Yiannis is Petra’s upstairs tenant and is in love with Nisha. It took me a while to warm to Yiannis as he is a poacher of songbirds. The book is an interesting treatise on the relationship between employers and servants. The servant takes care of everything for the family, but the employer knows so little about the servant. “Who was this woman who I had previously seen only as a shadow of myself?” It’s so sad to think of the number of women forced to leave their own families in order to provide them with financial support. And how taken advantage of they are - the agent fees, the hours required. It’s one step up from slavery. The book is beautifully written and filled with symbolism. We never hear from Nisha herself, she is always seen through the eyes of others. The book has an added poignancy as it’s based on the true life disappearances of domestic workers in Cyprus. In the author’s note, Lefteri makes an interesting point about what constitutes “a choice” when it comes to leaving your country of origin. I recommend this for those looking for a book club selection that would lead to some meaningful discussions. My thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    Even though it’s been nearly two years since I read Christy Lefteri’s award-winning second novel The Beekeeper of Aleppo , one of the things that has continued to stay with me whenever I think of that book is the affecting, haunting nature of the story. While I might not remember every detail of the plot, I do remember the gut-wrenching emotions that the story evoked. I was moved by Nuri’s and Afra’s heartrending story detailing their harrowing journey from war-torn Syria to Great Britain, t Even though it’s been nearly two years since I read Christy Lefteri’s award-winning second novel The Beekeeper of Aleppo , one of the things that has continued to stay with me whenever I think of that book is the affecting, haunting nature of the story. While I might not remember every detail of the plot, I do remember the gut-wrenching emotions that the story evoked. I was moved by Nuri’s and Afra’s heartrending story detailing their harrowing journey from war-torn Syria to Great Britain, trying their best to survive as refugees in a foreign and not necessarily welcoming country. Lefteri’s newest work, Songbirds , is written in a similar vein — a poignant, heartbreaking story that centers on foreign domestic workers on the Greek island of Cyprus. Nisha Jayakody is a young Sri Lankan widow who, forced by the circumstances of dire poverty and desperation as well as a desire to provide a better life for her beloved daughter Kumari, signs up with an agency that places her as a maid and nanny for Petra, a pregnant businesswoman living on Cyprus whose husband had also just died. In addition to taking care of Petra’s household, Nisha also helps raise Petra’s daughter Aliki. Yiannis is a poacher who secretly traps songbirds, a protected species, and sells them on the black market. After meeting and falling in love with Nisha, Yiannis longs to get out of the dangerous, illegal trade he is in and marry the woman he loves. But it is not that easy — due to Nisha’s status as a foreign maid, her life actually doesn’t belong to her, but rather to her employer, who has the right to fire Nisha if her relationship with Yiannis were discovered. Like so many of her fellow domestic worker friends, Nisha has few options and while she is treated well by Petra, their relationship is a perfunctory one in that Petra knows nearly nothing about this woman who had taken such good care of her and raised as well as loved her daughter as her own. It is not until one night, when Nisha goes out and doesn’t return, effectively vanishing into thin air, that Petra and Yiannis understand not just the profound impact Nisha had on their lives, but also the reality of who she was as a person. Though the story here is about Nisha, the narrative is actually told from the alternating perspectives of Petra and Yiannis. Lefteri writes in her author’s note that this way of telling Nisha’s story — the piecing “together of her existence through the memories of others” — was deliberate, and after understanding what Lefteri was trying to do, it made me appreciate the story more (I highly recommend reading the Author’s Note after finishing the book, as Lefteri discusses the inspiration behind the story — it’s definitely not to be missed!). One of the things I love about this story is the fact that it gives a chance for the voices of the most vulnerable to be heard as well as understood — in this way, I found Nisha and her story to be tremendously powerful. Having said all that, while I did find this story to be both moving and heart wrenching, I felt it didn’t quite reach the level of emotional depth that The Beekeeper of Aleppo did. Of course, that’s not to say that Songbirds wasn’t an emotional experience because it definitely was —but it didn’t leave me speechless like Lefteri’s previous work did. Nevertheless, it’s still a beautifully written, absolutely worthy read, one that I highly recommend. A word of caution though: there are some scenes that describe cruelties done to the songbirds that are troubling and difficult to read — for those who might be bothered by these types of depictions, might be a good idea to gloss over them (luckily those scenes are few and far between). Received ARC from Ballantine Books via NetGalley.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dale Harcombe

    Four and a half stars Nisha has left her home in Sri Lanka in the hope of giving her child, Kumari, who she has left back home with her grandmother, a future. She is in Cyprus, working as a maid for Petra and caring for her young daughter Aliki. Meanwhile, over the years, she keeps in touch with her own daughter by phone. Nisha’s lover Yiannis is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa for winter. He dreams of a new life married to Nisha. But then Nisha disappears. What has h Four and a half stars Nisha has left her home in Sri Lanka in the hope of giving her child, Kumari, who she has left back home with her grandmother, a future. She is in Cyprus, working as a maid for Petra and caring for her young daughter Aliki. Meanwhile, over the years, she keeps in touch with her own daughter by phone. Nisha’s lover Yiannis is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa for winter. He dreams of a new life married to Nisha. But then Nisha disappears. What has happened to her? Where is she? Neither Petra nor Yiannis believe it is true that Nisha has simply left for elsewhere. Something must have happened to her. Petra seeks police help. But the police don’t want to know about the disappearance of this foreign domestic worker. As Petra and Yiannis set out to try and find out what has happened to Nisha, they realise how little they knew or understood her. Along the way to discovering what happened they begin to learn more about themselves as well as Nisha. And is more than one woman a victim? This is beautifully written and a heartbreaker. So sad to see they way people are disregarded as unimportant and expendable because of their race and background. This is a story of love and loss that exposes the depths of the human heart, both good and bad. Chapters are told from the point of view of Petra and Yiannis with occasional chapters by an unnamed person. These short passages from him were the least interesting bits of the narrative. The rest of the story is quietly compelling. Sadly, this is not just fiction but is based on incidents of disappearance of domestic workers in Cyprus. It was a real eye opener for me. A highly readable, thought provoking, character driven novel that is a definite recommended read. This is my first book by this author. Interested to read more,

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

    Petra has been widowed while she is pregnant, knowing that she will need help after the birth of her baby so that she can go back to work she employs a maid. Nisha is also a widow and she leaves her home in Sri Lanka to look for work and send money home to her mother who is looking after her young daughter. Nisha had now been living as a maid and looking after Petra’s daughter for nine years but she suddenly disappears without a trace. A slow moving story about the plight of women and the depths th Petra has been widowed while she is pregnant, knowing that she will need help after the birth of her baby so that she can go back to work she employs a maid. Nisha is also a widow and she leaves her home in Sri Lanka to look for work and send money home to her mother who is looking after her young daughter. Nisha had now been living as a maid and looking after Petra’s daughter for nine years but she suddenly disappears without a trace. A slow moving story about the plight of women and the depths they will go to so that their family can survive. Thank you to NetGalley and Bonnier Books UK for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anna Avian

    Overly descriptive, slow and boring. There were far too many details about the birds, the poaching and none about the real issues foreign domestic workers were dealing with on daily basis. There was no connection between Yannis and Petra and although they both claimed to care about Nisha neither one did hardly anything within the span of a month to try and find her.  Nothing really happened for the majority of the book and the ending just felt futile and shallow.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    When a nanny goes missing and the authorities dismiss the inquiries, the woman’s employer and boyfriend are forced to investigate her disappearance. As they look for her, they narrate her story, pulling this woman out of obscurity and revealing the precarious lives of guest workers. The employer and boyfriend narrate the story in alternating chapters. Although I appreciate what the author was trying to communicate, the novel fell flat for me. The two voices were indistinguishable despite very di When a nanny goes missing and the authorities dismiss the inquiries, the woman’s employer and boyfriend are forced to investigate her disappearance. As they look for her, they narrate her story, pulling this woman out of obscurity and revealing the precarious lives of guest workers. The employer and boyfriend narrate the story in alternating chapters. Although I appreciate what the author was trying to communicate, the novel fell flat for me. The two voices were indistinguishable despite very different backgrounds. The amount of time given to the background of the two narrators diluted the nanny’s story. Rather than harrowing, this story turned out to be a bit sad and a bit sweet.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kate Southey

    I write this review with tears still on my cheeks from finishing this beautiful novel. Songbirds felt vastly different to me than Lefteri’s first novel The Beekeeper of Aleppo but like Beekeeper it is a beautifully written tale so tiny in its cast of characters and so huge in the global scope of the story and so, so relevant and important. As with Beekeeper Songbirds deals with human migration, this time economic migrants rather than displaced refugees and in her forward Lefteri quite rightly st I write this review with tears still on my cheeks from finishing this beautiful novel. Songbirds felt vastly different to me than Lefteri’s first novel The Beekeeper of Aleppo but like Beekeeper it is a beautifully written tale so tiny in its cast of characters and so huge in the global scope of the story and so, so relevant and important. As with Beekeeper Songbirds deals with human migration, this time economic migrants rather than displaced refugees and in her forward Lefteri quite rightly states that the distinction drawn between these two groups as if only ‘real’ refugees are worthy of their human rights and not being exploited. Anyone who makes the decision to leave their family, their homeland and everything they know simply in order to feed their family is a vulnerable person who is at risk of persecution and harm and this novel brings this home with a sledgehammer. The lives of Petra and Nisha are at once so similar and so vastly different as are the worlds their daughters inhabit it is a shame that Petra never realised this until it is too late. Nisha’s mysterious disappearance while terrible is the catalyst for Petra to finally break out of her grief and mother the daughter that Nisha has been raising for her for the last 9 years. Watching this bond grow at the same time as Yiannis and Kumari begin the tentative beginnings of their own connection is a beautiful thing and evidence of the humanity and heart that Christy Lefteri brings to her novels. She understands people, of all ages of character, all nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds, the characters are utterly authentic and with the power to move the reader. This makes waiting for her next book so very exciting. This book needs to be a GCSE set text as all young people need to see the issue of human migration through these rich characters rather than tabloid newspaper sound bites that they read on social media.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sîvan Sardar

    I literally cant stop crying, the pain in my chest is unbelievable

  13. 5 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    What a heartbreakingly, poetic book. This is a novel of the classes and how we treat missing persons differently by their race, income and standing. There are a lot of themes to this story as well as a lot of metaphors. I think what I liked most was the fact that the author based this on the real life disappearances of housekeepers in Cyprus. I don't have the talent for words to explain how wonderfully written this novel is. The misery of domestics is portrayed on every page and I What a heartbreakingly, poetic book. This is a novel of the classes and how we treat missing persons differently by their race, income and standing. There are a lot of themes to this story as well as a lot of metaphors. I think what I liked most was the fact that the author based this on the real life disappearances of housekeepers in Cyprus. I don't have the talent for words to explain how wonderfully written this novel is. The misery of domestics is portrayed on every page and I felt that I got to know a lot of the characters. I was so sad when I had finished the book and look forward to reading more of Ms. Lefteri's work because this was a really powerful story, beautifully written with with well-drawn characters. Highly recommended. Disclosure: Thank you NetGalley, Christy Lefteri and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own. #Songbirds #NetGalley

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Songbirds by Christy Lefteri is an excellent fictional novel that kept me engaged through the mystery and suspenseful narrative, the powerful human characters and messages, and I really enjoyed it all from beginning to end. This is a great novel. Yes, it has a storyline on trying to locate a missing person, but it is also about so much more. I was really enlightened on the subject of refugees and the harrowing events and circumstances that people go through to find safety, stability, and a chance Songbirds by Christy Lefteri is an excellent fictional novel that kept me engaged through the mystery and suspenseful narrative, the powerful human characters and messages, and I really enjoyed it all from beginning to end. This is a great novel. Yes, it has a storyline on trying to locate a missing person, but it is also about so much more. I was really enlightened on the subject of refugees and the harrowing events and circumstances that people go through to find safety, stability, and a chance at a life for themselves and their own families. The bravery, the strength, the risks taken are impressive and it was hard to see how some of the outcomes occur. It was very eye-opening to read this narrative. While this was not a true story in and of itself, the author adds a wonderful and reflective note at the end of the book to help explain her reasoning and inspiration for the book in regards to some of the events for some of the workers that have come to Cyprus from other areas in hopes of transition and better circumstances, but unfortunately not always finding those. It was interesting to learn more about Cyprus and the landscapes and the author really created a vision for the reader within this story. I really enjoyed this novel and I recommend it for anyone that enjoys fiction and a well-constructed narrative that will draw one in from the very beginning. I easily devoured this book in less then 2 days. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Ballantine/Random House for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen R

    A powerfully written, beautiful story bringing to life an array of sympathetic characters and the weaving in of their struggles to adapt to a new normal after the disappearance of beloved migrant laborer, Nisha.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝑰 𝒇𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝒂𝒔𝒍𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝒃𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒅𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑵𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒂 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒎𝒂𝒅𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒔𝒂𝒏𝒅. 𝑺𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒔𝒐𝒍𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒎𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒂 𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒍𝒆 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒆. Songbirds speaks for women whose stories would otherwise remain untold. Tales of migrants who must venture out finding work far from their own children and families as a means for a better future. Workers who are unseen, caretakers of children for those who hire them while their own must be left behind in their homeland. Often, a via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝑰 𝒇𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝒂𝒔𝒍𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝒃𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒅𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑵𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒂 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒎𝒂𝒅𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒔𝒂𝒏𝒅. 𝑺𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒔𝒐𝒍𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒎𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒂 𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒍𝒆 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒆. Songbirds speaks for women whose stories would otherwise remain untold. Tales of migrants who must venture out finding work far from their own children and families as a means for a better future. Workers who are unseen, caretakers of children for those who hire them while their own must be left behind in their homeland. Often, assumptions are made about such women, this is one of those stories. Petra’s house is a three-story Venetian property not far from the Green Line, or “Buffer Zone”, that divides the island into a northern (Turkish Cypriots) and southern region (Greek Cypriots). An island that Petra tells us, has seen the influence of both Europe and the Middle East-“sitting in crystal-blue waters of the Eastern Mediterranean’. Cyprus has been occupied and colonized, a battleground too between the Turks and Greeks. Petra’s city of Nicosia is on the Greek side but ‘brushes the line’, it is a land of ‘uneasy peace’. It is here that Nisha works, far from her own child and life in Sri Lanka, for Petra as nanny and maid. Yiannis, Nisha’s lover, rents a flat from Petra spending his time poaching protected, beautiful, little songbirds, an illegal yet lucrative career. One that he doesn’t want to do forever. Petra, like many other locals, assumes Yiannis is simply collecting mushrooms, herbs and snails as his job, but it would never be enough to support himself or the future he longs to share with Nisha. He wants to marry her, take her back to Sri Lanka where they can be a family including her own daughter Kumari. Like the dream he had, she disappears like a castle on the shore. Living a divided life, Nisha’s link to Kumari is through phone calls late at night. When Petra notices she isn’t making her nightly call, she heads to bed but by the next morning there is no sign of Nisha in the kitchen cooking breakfast, nor is her own daughter Aliki ready for school, all Nisha’s tasks. By nightfall she still isn’t home, something is wrong. Aliki knows more about Nisha than her mother, from the hair she keeps in her drawer to the cherished locket. Her daughter loves Nisha like a mother, and as Petra makes more troubling discoveries, like her passport still in her room, she must face the reality that something terrible may have happened. Yiannis is just as concerned, crazy with fear. She isn’t just another nameless woman who ‘comes and goes like the rain’ no matter what others say. This disparaging, eye-opening comment brings to mind the many women on the island who work hard, usually coming from lives of struggle and poverty, with no other choice than to leave their own lives behind to earn money in foreign lands. Often, like Nisha, they leave their own children in the care of family members to care for other people’s children, lives and hearts divided. Nisha treats Aliki with tenderness, providing her the nurturing she isn’t free to give her own child in person. Far more the norm than the cruel assumption that ‘those types’ are devious, scheming, fallen women. Songbirds exposes bigger divides than the Green Line, it is a class and race divide, one that Yiannis must also confront at every turn in his own life trying to make a living. Much of the world’s inhabitants don’t have the luxury of choices, sometimes those engaging in criminal careers fall into it out of a desperation those from higher classes don’t comprehend. For the women migrants it’s something different, a dangerous sexism that can take one’s life. Most people on the island hire domestic workers, the very people they rely on to run their lives, that they entrust their children to are the very same people they denigrate and make generalized assumptions about. Petra’s own reasons are a sorrowful tale too, but through Nisha’s vanishing it’s a hard truth to own that she didn’t much see her as a person with her own hopes, dreams, sorrows. Without Nisha, how different her world and Aliki’s would be. It is the bond between Petra’s own daughter and Nisha that pushes her to find the answers to her disappearance, knowing all too well that she would never have just left, no matter what other people may say. The agency Nisha works for doesn’t care about anything beyond her debt, the authorities won’t concern themselves with every woman who up and disappears- better let someone else worry about it rather than waste their time investigating. Petra should just clean the room and find another maid, according to the police. She cannot, in good conscience, just let her disappearance go nor forget that she has a child only two years older than her own who needs answers, a mother. As the story grows, Petra realizes there was a lot she didn’t know about Nisha’s life, particularly the love between she and Yiannis. When the two come together, she can see he is in agony. She discovers more secrets as she searches for answers and as the tale draws to a close, we learn what respect is owed, what sacrifices are made and that when you’re invisible it is all too easy for evil doers to snuff you out. Whose to blame? Read the Author’s Note at the end to understand the inspiration for this novel, it is truly giving voice to domestic workers. While this is fiction, it is reality based horror and begs the question, where is our humanity. Songbirds is a perfect title, the women themselves are just as trapped, unable to fly away into free lives. Important read. Published August 3, 2021 Random House Ballantine Books

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brittany (whatbritreads)

    *Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review!* Having loved the Beekeeper of Aleppo, I was so excited to read this and once again Christy Lefteri does not disappoint. There’s something about her style of storytelling that I’m just utterly in awe of and I can never stop reading. She writes the kind of books you still think about days/weeks/months after you’ve turned that last page. They’re so memorable and thought provoking. An instant-buy author for me every t *Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review!* Having loved the Beekeeper of Aleppo, I was so excited to read this and once again Christy Lefteri does not disappoint. There’s something about her style of storytelling that I’m just utterly in awe of and I can never stop reading. She writes the kind of books you still think about days/weeks/months after you’ve turned that last page. They’re so memorable and thought provoking. An instant-buy author for me every time. There was a depth to this book that I don’t think I’m even eloquent enough to praise highly enough. The entire narrative just gave a voice to those who have been ignored in the world and whose stories often get left untold because society has deemed them too unimportant. I just found it beautifully executed and honestly quite touching. At its heart, this was about ‘low skilled’ immigrant workers being ignored and becoming almost invisible in society to the point where nowhere cares if they go missing or what happens to them – predominantly poor women. They’re people who are so often misunderstood and subjected to so much discrimination just for trying to survive. It was so well done in here and truly opened my eyes to a lot of things. Lefteri is a lot better with words than I am, and she does a great job at the end of the book writing about her inspiration and drive for writing Songbirds, which I would recommend also reading. Overall, it was just beautifully written, well-paced and had such an intriguing and meaningful plot. The choice to include multiple points of view worked really well and I loved the differing narratives equally, they all added a unique touch to the story. I didn’t necessarily feel particularly strongly about any of the characters though, and when I finished with this book there was just something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on that didn’t push it up to a five for me. Still definitely worth the read, and a book I can see myself recommending.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Nisha moved to Cyprus from Sri Lanka to earn money for her daughter and mother. Petra employs Nisha to care for her daughter and be her general maid. When Nisha goes missing, Petra finds the police won't help so she sets out to find the truth herself. What she discovers is that nobody cares about poor foreign women. This was a beautifully written story of relationships but also of misogyny, class and racism. Nisha moved to Cyprus from Sri Lanka to earn money for her daughter and mother. Petra employs Nisha to care for her daughter and be her general maid. When Nisha goes missing, Petra finds the police won't help so she sets out to find the truth herself. What she discovers is that nobody cares about poor foreign women. This was a beautifully written story of relationships but also of misogyny, class and racism.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Songbirds....At the back of the book the author’s notes hints to the similarities of the Cyprus domestic workers to the migratory Songbirds that travel across the seas. They use the island as a place to eat, rest and regain their strength in order to continue on life’s journey, but all too often they become entrapped in not so promising circumstances. The story is told in two voices, one of Petra, the employer of a domestic worker called Nisha that has disappeared. The other is told by Yiannas, N Songbirds....At the back of the book the author’s notes hints to the similarities of the Cyprus domestic workers to the migratory Songbirds that travel across the seas. They use the island as a place to eat, rest and regain their strength in order to continue on life’s journey, but all too often they become entrapped in not so promising circumstances. The story is told in two voices, one of Petra, the employer of a domestic worker called Nisha that has disappeared. The other is told by Yiannas, Nisha’s friend/lover. Nisha’s life story unfolds in Petra and Yiannis telling of their memories of her. At least half the book is dedicated to Yiannis and his involvement in the illegal trade of protected, endangered Songbirds. The details describing the indiscriminate trapping, capture and killing of thousands of birds is quite disturbing. In fact, I was more uncomfortable with the mass bird killings than I was by the story of the missing domestic workers. Based on a true story, the author is trying to shed light on the injustices of domestic workers all over the world by employers and also by law enforcement that tend to look the other way. Although their plight can be horrifyingly similar, the author spends so much time detailing the illegal trade and capture of the Songbirds while providing a modest overview of the life of the domestic workers, the domestic workers life and treatment pales in comparison to the plight of the birds. An injustice to the domestic workers by the author. The insertion of the two pages written in italics about a dead decomposing rabbit inserted indiscriminately throughput the book left me baffled. I couldn’t tie it together with the exception of the last insertion. Another failure by the author. I love Christy Lefteri’s writing but this one failed to deliver the powerful punch it should have on such an important issue.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kati Berman

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was looking forward to this novel, because I enjoyed the Beekeepers of Aleppo by the same author. Unfortunately this book disappointed me. It’s about the disappearance of a domestic worker, Nisha in Cyprus. The chapters alternate from the viewpoint of Petra , for whom Nisha worked for and Yiannis, with whom Nisha had a love affair. I found the book boring, chapter after chapter, it didn’t get closer to what happened. The poa I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was looking forward to this novel, because I enjoyed the Beekeepers of Aleppo by the same author. Unfortunately this book disappointed me. It’s about the disappearance of a domestic worker, Nisha in Cyprus. The chapters alternate from the viewpoint of Petra , for whom Nisha worked for and Yiannis, with whom Nisha had a love affair. I found the book boring, chapter after chapter, it didn’t get closer to what happened. The poaching of the songbirds had nothing to do with the story and I didn’t care for the gruesome details. I only finished this book to be able to write an honest review. Two stars, at best, and that is only because the book addresses a real, serious issue about domestic workers in Cyprus. Thanks NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the advanced copy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tripfiction

    TripFiction's BOOK OF THE MONTH July 2021 - set in CYPRUS Christy Lefteri’s last book, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, was one of my absolutely favourite reads of 2019. I was therefore looking forward quite enormously to receiving Songbirds and it in no way disappointed. It is very different to, but the equal of, the first book. Beekeeper was a saga covering the plight of a family from Syria travelling across the refugee trail of Europe as they head for the UK. It was wide in both its scope and in its g TripFiction's BOOK OF THE MONTH July 2021 - set in CYPRUS Christy Lefteri’s last book, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, was one of my absolutely favourite reads of 2019. I was therefore looking forward quite enormously to receiving Songbirds and it in no way disappointed. It is very different to, but the equal of, the first book. Beekeeper was a saga covering the plight of a family from Syria travelling across the refugee trail of Europe as they head for the UK. It was wide in both its scope and in its geography. Songbirds feels much more contained. Much of the action happens on a single street in Cyprus – and the book never moves beyond the island. There are two interwoven themes. The first is the plight of domestic workers who travel halfway around the world to earn enough to send home to their families. As a character in the book says: "they run our houses, look after our children – but we never actually know who they are". Some are exploited by criminal gangs, others are abused by their host families – and some end up in good homes. The second is the plight of songbirds migrating to and from Northern Europe to Africa who are netted and killed in an illegal trade to supply the restaurant tables of Cyprus. Both themes cover the issues of migrants undertaking hazardous journeys leading them to unforeseen endings. Yiannis is a poacher of songbirds, but (perhaps to our surprise) he is not a bad person. He shows acts of kindness – like nursing a bird back to health after he failed to kill it cleanly. He is a man of contradictions… He lives in a flat above Petra, her daughter Aliki, and their Sri Lankan maid, Nisha. He is very much in love with Nisha – but cannot admit to her how he earns his living (she would disapprove) and cannot admit to Petra his love for Nisha – maids are not permitted to have relationships. Nisha goes missing – and her back story begins to emerge. The police show no interest whatsoever. They can disappear if they want to. Eventually what has happened to her becomes clear.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I've not read the author's previous novel, the best-selling The Beekeeper of Aleppo, but having finished Songbirds I can say it is definitely going to be added to my wishlist. Set in Cyprus, the author paints a picture of an island divided both physically, along the so-called Green Line, and socially, with the employment of maids - usually foreign women - commonplace amongst the well off. Following Nisha's unexplained disappearance and the reluctance of the police to get involved, Petra's search f I've not read the author's previous novel, the best-selling The Beekeeper of Aleppo, but having finished Songbirds I can say it is definitely going to be added to my wishlist. Set in Cyprus, the author paints a picture of an island divided both physically, along the so-called Green Line, and socially, with the employment of maids - usually foreign women - commonplace amongst the well off. Following Nisha's unexplained disappearance and the reluctance of the police to get involved, Petra's search for information leads her to speak to other foreign domestic workers who may have known Nisha and who perhaps may hold some clue to her whereabouts. In the process, Petra is forced to confront the fact that these women were largely invisible to her before. (In a clever use of irony, Petra is an optician who helps others to see better.) Petra hears their often shocking stories of abuse, mistreatment and exploitation. Indeed, even in the small neighbourhood around Petra's house - in Mr Yiakoumi's antique shop, in Theo's Greek restaurant or Maria's bar - young women from Sri Lanka, the Philippines or Nepal are working long hours cleaning, preparing and serving food, or carrying out other domestic duties. And although Petra might think herself a generous employer in comparison to some, she still expected Nisha to work from 6am to 7pm six days a week, with a two-hour break in the afternoon, even stipulating that when not working in the evening Nisha rest in her room to ensure she is fresh to resume her duties the next day. I liked the way the author explored the differences and similarities between Petra and Nisha. On the surface, the two women share similar experiences; they are both widows with young children. But Petra is financially secure and runs her own business whereas Nisha has been forced to leave her homeland to seek work as a maid, at the beck and call of others. Another difference is that Petra finds it hard to form the same effortless bond with her daughter, Aliki, that Nisha does. This is despite the fact that Aliki is close at hand for Petra yet Nisha's daughter, Kumari, is faraway in Sri Lanka and Nisha can communicate with her only in brief video calls. Yiannis' involvement in the lucrative but illegal poaching of migrating songbirds - from which activity he admits he 'makes a killing' - neatly mirrors the 'migration' of foreign workers, such as Nisha, to Cyprus in search of work that will bring them greater financial reward than they could find in their own country. And in another deft connection, the reader is reminded of Cyprus's history of repeated occupation and colonisation by other nations. Alongside the story of Petra and Yiannis' search for Nisha, are brief interludes set in a place which has an otherworldly feel to it but is still clearly in Cyprus. I found the contrast between the lush natural landscape and the signs of previous human activity quite unsettling. The significance of these sections became more apparent as the book progressed towards an ending I wasn't quite expecting. I really enjoyed the beautiful writing in the book and the insight it gave into issues I had not thought about before.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie Coren

    *Review is of an advance uncorrected proof provided by the publisher, Ballantine Books, to my library. Thanks, Ballantine and Glencoe Public Library* In the city of Nicosia, Cyprus, Petra, a new mother and recently widowed, feels she is out of her depth. When she reaches out to a maid placement agency to hire a housekeeper/nanny, a Sri Lankan woman named Nisha is sent to her, and over the next decade, Nisha becomes an integral part of Petra's household. Beyond maintaining her home and always maki *Review is of an advance uncorrected proof provided by the publisher, Ballantine Books, to my library. Thanks, Ballantine and Glencoe Public Library* In the city of Nicosia, Cyprus, Petra, a new mother and recently widowed, feels she is out of her depth. When she reaches out to a maid placement agency to hire a housekeeper/nanny, a Sri Lankan woman named Nisha is sent to her, and over the next decade, Nisha becomes an integral part of Petra's household. Beyond maintaining her home and always making sure dinner is made, Nisha helps to raise Petra's daughter, Aliki; however, it isn't until Nisha goes missing that Petra realizes just how important Nisha was in her life and just how little she even knew about this woman who had sacrificed everything. Nisha is one of many foreign women who make up a silent and invisible work-force in Cyprus. In search of a better life with more opportunities, they take jobs as maids and nannies, ensuring that households and businesses run smoothly; however, their treatment ranges from, at best overlooked, to mail-in-bride type affections to, at worst, abusive. When girls begin to go missing, not even local law enforcement feel looking for them is worth their time and effort, chalking up their disappearance to base "animal instincts". Petra is far from alone in her search for Nisha: Yiannis, a man to whom she rents out the attic flat of her house, has been involved in a romantic tryst with Nisha for years. Yiannis harbors a secret far more damaging than his affair with Nisha, however. To make ends meet, Yiannis poaches songbirds that are in turn sold as culinary delicacies on the black-market. Does Nisha's disappearance have something to do with the gangster-like bosses who run the poaching market? The story is told in turns between present and past from the POVs of Petra and Yiannis. Through their perspectives we come to learn more about Nisha, from her previous life in Sri Lanka to her hopes and dreams for the present and future. As the search for Nisha intensifies, Petra realizes, that even after a decade living under the same roof, how little she knew about her.. how parallel their lives ran; and she hopes beyond all hope that it isn't too late to set things right. 5/5 ⭐ This was a slow-burn book with a story engaging all the way through. Despite having been gutted by it, this is a book I want to read again. The prose is lyrical and substantive with a deep scope that deftly tackled the plight of migrant workers. Unraveling the story of Nisha made this read like a low-key crime thriller while still -solidly- being a beautiful piece of literature. Having never read The Beekeeper of Aleppo, I had no expectations of Lefteri, but I will be adding both her previous and future work to my TBR list. I have a feeling that Songbirds is going to be one of 2021's biggest books and will no doubt be in line for a number of awards. Highly suggest. Be on the lookout for the release of Songbirds August 2021. 📚 For more, check out my Instagram 📚

  24. 5 out of 5

    raventiques

    DNF @ 17% i think i should just stop autobuying books from authors unless i already like the sound of their next book. buying books because of the name attached rather than the content itself doesn't seem to be working out for me. for this book in particular: i am currently very bored. and itching to read something else. i will probably come back to it at some point but i'm putting it down for now. i don't see any direction for the plot as of yet and i'm not interested in the characters the way i DNF @ 17% i think i should just stop autobuying books from authors unless i already like the sound of their next book. buying books because of the name attached rather than the content itself doesn't seem to be working out for me. for this book in particular: i am currently very bored. and itching to read something else. i will probably come back to it at some point but i'm putting it down for now. i don't see any direction for the plot as of yet and i'm not interested in the characters the way i should be. i am beyond disappointed but it is what it is. @ everyone: read the beekeeper of aleppo instead! it's so much better.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Josefa (June.Reads)

    As I really enjoyed The Beekeeper of Aleppo, I was looking forward to this one and I was very happy to have been approved on NG. When I started reading, I wasn’t sure about this one. I am being honest here, I got bored, and I was very close to DNF. I wasn’t interested in Yiannis or Petra’s POV, I found their storylines quite dull. I wasn’t interested in the songbirds poaching either. However, as I wanted to know what happened to Nisha, I kept going and halfway through it got better as more detai As I really enjoyed The Beekeeper of Aleppo, I was looking forward to this one and I was very happy to have been approved on NG. When I started reading, I wasn’t sure about this one. I am being honest here, I got bored, and I was very close to DNF. I wasn’t interested in Yiannis or Petra’s POV, I found their storylines quite dull. I wasn’t interested in the songbirds poaching either. However, as I wanted to know what happened to Nisha, I kept going and halfway through it got better as more details were coming to light and I started seeing this book differently. I really wanted to have Nisha’s POV. Even though I am not from the same country as this character, and I moved to another country willingly, I am also a foreigner in the country I call home and sometimes we are not treated the same way just for that reason. I also do the job she was doing, except for the housekeeping part. So, this hit me, and I really felt for her and for all her friends. This book highlights how many domestic staff are treated by their employers in a country that is not their birth one and how, as women, we are in danger at any given time. Apart from the initial boredom, I ended up enjoying it. My main mistake at the beginning was to compare it to The Beekeeper of Aleppo so if you pick up this one, go in without making any comparison.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Khai Jian (KJ)

    “Yes, I love thinking about beginnings. I don’t like endings, though I suppose I’m like most people in that. An ending can be staring you right in the face without you knowing it.” Nisha is a migrant worker from Sri Lanka, who now works as a nanny in Cyprus. Petra is Nisha's employer, who left the caring and nurturing of her daughter, Aliki to Nisha. Yiannis, a tenant in Petra's apartment, is having an affair with Nisha. Yiannis is also working secretly as a songbird poacher. The story opens with “Yes, I love thinking about beginnings. I don’t like endings, though I suppose I’m like most people in that. An ending can be staring you right in the face without you knowing it.” Nisha is a migrant worker from Sri Lanka, who now works as a nanny in Cyprus. Petra is Nisha's employer, who left the caring and nurturing of her daughter, Aliki to Nisha. Yiannis, a tenant in Petra's apartment, is having an affair with Nisha. Yiannis is also working secretly as a songbird poacher. The story opens with the disappearance of Nisha and throughout the story, we follow the search of Nisha by Petra and Yiannis. The pasts and backgrounds of all three individuals are embedded in the plotline. The overarching theme of this story would be the life of a migrant worker, xenophobia, and the discriminatory treatment towards migrant workers. In fact, the songbirds act as a very loud metaphor for the state of migrant workers/human refugees in Cyprus. Songbirds are migratory birds who migrated to Cyprus during autumn but they are also the victims of poachers. Lefteri further describes the detailed method in poaching songbirds, which are very cruel in nature. This indirectly highlighted the issue of the killing of songbirds in Cyprus. Unfortunately, the story is lacking in depth and it is clear that the author did not conduct a detailed research on these issues. Perhaps I had high hopes and look forward to reading an in-depth examination of the issues of migrant workers rather than mere remarks and comments on this issue. Further, there are too many plot holes revolving around the disappearance or murder of migrant workers. The pacing of the story is also rather problematic. It is a disappointing read to me as the issues discussed herein require a lot of attention from the public. Perhaps I am not the target audience for this book, and thus the 2.8/5 star rating from me. Needless to say, if you intend to have an introductory read on the issues of migrant workers and the killing of songbirds in Cyprus, you can still give Songbirds a try since this book is very well-loved by a lot of readers. Thanks to Definitely Books and Pansing Distribution for sending this review copy to me in exchange for an honest opinion!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

    This story hooked me from the opening pages and quickly became a book I did not want to put down. Set in Cyprus the story is told from the alternating perspectives of Petra and Yiannis who are both searching for a woman named Nisha who has gone missing. Nisha is employed by Petra to care for her daughter and her home and Yiannis is in a loving relationship with Nisha which they have kept a secret. Taking inspiration from real events and people, Lefteri draws attention to the plight of women like This story hooked me from the opening pages and quickly became a book I did not want to put down. Set in Cyprus the story is told from the alternating perspectives of Petra and Yiannis who are both searching for a woman named Nisha who has gone missing. Nisha is employed by Petra to care for her daughter and her home and Yiannis is in a loving relationship with Nisha which they have kept a secret. Taking inspiration from real events and people, Lefteri draws attention to the plight of women like Nisha, originally from Sri Lanka who moved to Cyprus leaving her daughter behind, to earn a living to support her family back home and the lack of protection and welfare support from the country. The authorities lack of interest or action when Nisha and other foreign workers go missing is shocking. I liked getting to know Nisha through the eyes of two characters who viewed her very differently and Petra's growth over the course of the story from a woman who took Nisha for granted and viewed her as an employee rather than a person, to realising the importance and impact Nisha had on her and her daughter's lives was brilliantly portrayed. The storyline about the poaching of Songbirds made for difficult reading but the symbolism of these tiny precious birds was beautiful and really added to the emotional power of the novel. Thank you to Readers First for the copy of this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    smalltownbookmom

    4.5 - Based on real events, this was an incredibly moving and powerful look at the life of a Sri Lankan domestic worker living on the island of Cyprus who goes missing mysteriously. When the authorities have no interest in looking for Nisha, her employer Petra takes it upon herself to try to figure out what happened. Told in alternating perspectives between Petra and Yiannis, a poacher and the man Nisha was secretly having an affair with. The two eventually team up uncovering many more missing w 4.5 - Based on real events, this was an incredibly moving and powerful look at the life of a Sri Lankan domestic worker living on the island of Cyprus who goes missing mysteriously. When the authorities have no interest in looking for Nisha, her employer Petra takes it upon herself to try to figure out what happened. Told in alternating perspectives between Petra and Yiannis, a poacher and the man Nisha was secretly having an affair with. The two eventually team up uncovering many more missing women that have gone unnoticed and uncared for. The author sheds an important light on a vulnerable class of women society largely ignores and who often get abused because of their dependent positions. Equally heartbreaking and illuminating, this is another great book from the author of The beekeeper of Aleppo. Excellent on audio with a full cast narration and a moving author's note included at the end - highly recommend! Favorite quote: "It struck me how one person's emancipation sometimes relies on the servitude of another. These thoughts tormented me."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    Hauntingly beautiful and resonant. The symbolism Lefteri weaves into Songbirds is vivid and powerful. I’ll be thinking about and visualizing the imagery of the songbirds and domestic workers. I highly recommend the audiobook. The narrators were perfectly cast, and their cadence suited the song of the story very well.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kaeleigh Reynolds

    Slow burn in the beginning, but then wow the second half totally makes up for it. Somehow, you learn everything about the main character through other characters recollections of her memories? What. I don’t even understand, but it worked. Also an incredible exploration of coming to terms with one’s own apathy towards others. And, of course, a blatant look at how the upper middle class (in any country/culture) treats foreigners, the working class, and women in domestic service.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.