Lingering Sins

Sue Costa 4557272481946


1940s & '50s,1960s & '70s

Sue Costa

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Late 1940's in Cyprus. Story of Stella in an abusive arranged marriage. Her husband abandons her for a life in Australia, and she finds the courage to follow him there seven years later when he makes no contact. Stella falls in love with a man on the ship and falls pregnant. Now to face her husband.



Short Summary

Stella is a village girl in an abusive arranged marriage. Her husband abandons her and their children and migrates to Australia, leaving her penniless. Seven years later, Stella courageously follows him to Australia, not knowing if he will accept her. Falls in love on ship and falls pregnant.

Stella's husband again abandons her only to return eight years later to entice their 16 year old daughter to move in with him and his perverted friend with whom he runs a prostitution racket. The friend becomes obsessed with the daughter and tries to rape her. The abuse leaves her disturbed.


Nicosia Cyprus, then Sydney Australia

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Overcoming Monster/Villain,Rags to Riches

Plot - Other Elements

Happy Ending,Other

Mature Audience Themes

Sexual Abuse,Nudity

Main Character Details

Name: Stella Gavrillis

Age: 23

Gender: Female

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Modest,Obedient,Uneducated,Gracious,Naive,Underdog,Romantic,Insecure

Additional Character Details

Name: Thomas

Age: 22

Gender: Male

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Aggressive,Villainous,Confident,Criminal,Greedy,Manipulative,Masculine,Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Marina

Age: 16

Gender: Female

Role: emotional

Key Traits: Adventurous,Sexy,Engaging,Outspoken,Secretive

Additional Character Details

Name: Henry

Age: 50

Gender: Male

Role: antagonist

Key Traits: Aggressive,Villainous,Criminal,Power Hungry,Greedy,Manipulative,Unapologetic

Development Pitch

Lingering Sins is an inspiring story that gives an insight on post-WWII migration, and a family's journey to a new country during a period that saw large-scale movement of people across the world. It's a powerful romantic thriller of courage and love in the face of abuse and isolation. Stella's tenacity in raising her children in an arranged marriage filled with violence and deceit is inspirational. It depicts the courage of a woman determined to survive, especially after her husband abandons her and leaves her penniless to migrate to Australia. Her morals and religious upbringing are compromised on her journey to Australia when she meets a man who shows her the love and comfort she never received from her husband. Will she ever accept the lingering sin of adultery? Was she being punished for her sins when her daughter is tangled in a web of prostitution at the age of 16? I'm confident Lingering Sins would succeed as a movie because it relates to a vast number of people. Arranged marriages, domestic violence, demeaning of women, and migration are struggles which always pique people's interest, irrespective of the era. These are dramas which many people have lived through and can relate to. It has the history, drama, romance, suspense as well as danger to make my novel a great motion picture, or even a television series as it spans through four decades. It has substance and relevance which are lacking in many of the contemporary books and movies.

About The Author

Sue Costa was born in Cyprus and migrated to Australia when she was four years old. She holds no university degrees or glamorous job titles, but what she does have is a passion for reading, learning and writing. Her inspiration for her novels is derived from listening to the experiences, memories and aspirations of real people from different generations and cultures. Sue's debut novel, Lingering Sins, is based on post WWII migration, and a family's journey to a new country during a period that saw large-scale movement of people across the world.

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: InHouse Publishing

Year Published: 2019

Hard Copy Available







Stella's family is tricked into a bad deal for her marriage. She tries to make the best of her abusive new husband, but is thankful for the day he abandons her and their two kids. She saves for years to escape impoverished Cyprus in order to follow her husband to Australia as she is legally stuck to him. Stella finds love on the ship and gets pregnant and has to figure out how to avoid scandal in her new home across the world.

Overall Rating


Point of View


Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: GOOD

Characterization: FAIR

Commerciality: GOOD

Franchise Potential: GOOD

Pace: GOOD

Premise: GOOD

Structure: GOOD

Theme: FAIR

Accuracy of Book Profile

Yes, the book profile accurately follows the book's story. The logline might mention Stella's motive for moving to Australia as different from what is currently said given that she planned to go for years due to lack of opportunity in Cyprus not just because her deadbeat husband was there and he never wrote to her.

Draw of Story

The setting up Cyprus in the 1940s is exotic as is unexpected charm of finding a new home so far away from home. It is interesting to see how Stella's community helps her grow and how even moving a village away is as much a change for her as moving to Australia.

Possible Drawbacks

Thomas can feel a bit one note as it is unclear why he is so selfish, off putting and oblivious to empathy. Knowing Thomas' motivation for his selfishness and adding more layers to why he treats others the way he does would make his meanness seem more realistic in how he is still able to have friends and function in society before he turns to his gambling and brothel business.

Use of Special Effects


Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that Stella is the perfect Cypriot wife to an awful abusive man and she falls in love after she is married to a man that is not her husband on a journey where they both will be halfway across the world for the first time.

Fanbase Potential

This could have a decent fanbase as more of a romantic drama rather than as historical fiction. Focusing more of the love triangle rather than devoting a large first part of the story to the awful marriage would create marketable tension faster.

Awards Potential

This could have more potential for awards depending on which themes are focused on. The romance and abuse storylines may not gain notice, but other aspects of Stella's story are quite unique.

Envisioned Budget


Similar Films/TV Series


What’s New About the Story

The originality stems from Stella making the best situation out of each trial and adapting to a new community through staying authentically herself.

Lead Characters

Stella is strong, independent and virtuous with a spirit that can't be broken. Thomas is a miserable and grimy selfish excuse of a man. Simon is supportive and helpful as is Pavlo.

Uniqueness of Story

The relationship between Cyprus and Australia as well as old school matchmaking are uncommon, but the base love triangle is a common trope.

Possible Formats

Film: Studio, Indie, Streaming

Analyst Recommendation



While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

Tips for Improvement

Restructuring the Athena subplot to have a greater purpose in Stella's storyline would help quicken the pacing. More focusing on Stella's actions rather than just her reactions to Thomas, but making Thomas more three dimensional would also help create more even tension. The ending subplot is reuniting with Thomas a third time after her gets his daughter involved with the brothel is confusing without more character development for Marina.