By Heidi Trautmann
A Bell in Bellapais – Echoes
from a Cyprus Village - written by John Guthrie in 1985; an homage to the
villagers of Bellapais from the early 1950s to 1974 and to its eternal and
unique values with its history written all over the place – still today.
Deirdre, daughter of John
and Vivian, one day showed one of her father’s manuscripts to friends and they
decided to print the story, the story of the Gardens of Irini and the story of
In those early days when the
Guthries started to build their house, the bells of Bellapais church were still
heard, pealing, chiming and tolling, depending on happy or unhappy days, on the
occasions of holy fests, like Easter, weddings or burials. They were the first
foreign residents in this remote Greek Cypriot village. They all minded their
business, tending their gardens and fields, their animals and after work they
met in the main square under the tree of Idleness. They soon made friends with
the villagers and lived among them, Vivian painting and John composing songs
which had been their dream after retiring from their medical profession.
The story takes us through
those 25 years, from a calm village life with its daily routine and small
events, life right through the conflict years. John makes us meet the important
village personalities, one by one, who took care of their people and also of
the newcomers, obviously the first foreign ones, and it was the first house
ever sold in the village. Later other foreigners followed, the most famous, the
writer Lawrence Durrell, became their neighbour.
This book introduces us to
the daily life of a Cypriot village until the days after the coup by the
extremists when the Turkish army came to the rescue of Turkish Cypriots. He
describes the days of worry but also mentions the discipline of the Turkish
army. He takes no sides politically, just records the events. No one is hurt
during the takeover of the village and it ends with the moving in of a complete
new village population, refugees from a village in the South of the island, brought
by lorries with their belongings to live in Bellapais now.
John wrote this book in 1985
when life more or less had returned to normal. It is a story many of the
long-time residents will love to read because it reminds them of a different
era in Cyprus.
Here two links to get an
idea of today’s Gardens of Irini, where Deirdre still lives and finds the
peaceful atmosphere her parents have created.
The book is available at
Bestsellers Bookstore in Karakum and Amazon UK
Published by MBW Publishing
Enterprises, Munich, Germany
Printed in Berlin
Cover, design and typeset by
Jay Wadams, Editor