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Olivia Manning

Subjects: Literature. All rights reserved. Sign in to annotate. Delete Cancel Save. They rarely learn the language. Which means the language they have is staunchly self-protective and neurotic. And this is the world Olivia Manning's cast of characters form. Poor Harriet, Manning's heroine, has far more to fear from the benumbing mediocrity of her company than the Nazis. No wonder she's always moaning. First and foremost, her manchild husband who, like perhaps like every other character in this book is running away from reality rather than fascism.

I realised at the end of this trilogy that it's doubtful if a single one of Manning's English characters would even be capable of producing a child. Such a band of hapless misfits might provide a high dosage of whimsical humour but I'm not sure they provide much reality. The Rumanians first and then the Greeks are little more than local colour in Manning's books. Forget empires, the English, as represented here, would struggle to organise a jumble sale. You almost begin to sympathise with the Germans certainly a new and disturbing experience, though clearly unintended.

Perhaps it would be better if this old world of unearned and condescending entitlement ceased to exist. Which is why this is one of the most eccentric literary depictions of WW2, as if it was some kind of social experiment which all Manning's characters dismally fail. View all 19 comments. Sep 03, Chrissie rated it really liked it Shelves: read , audible , classics , greece , hf , relationships , ww2 , series.

Review of The Balkan Trilogy : What first attracted me to this trilogy was the history woven into the story. WW2 in Bucharest and Athens. The trilogy starts in the fall of and ends in the spring of You watch the fall of first Romania and then Greece. No, you don't watch, you live it along with a group characters that you come to know intimately.

A close group of both friends and foes.


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The central protagonists are Harriet and Guy Pringle, but they are by no means the only characters. Th Review of The Balkan Trilogy : What first attracted me to this trilogy was the history woven into the story. There are many and it takes a while to really get to know each of them. What is important to stress is that it is the story of these people that is the central focus of the book. Their relationships are what the book is about.

History is merely the backdrop. The writing is superb. Consistently, Manning draws places and people and events with a perfect string of words. You are there and see through the eyes of the characters. What each character says and thinks and does is what they would say and think and do. There is humor. Other times you get annoyed at the choices made. Each character is complex. There are no simple solutions; what is described is real life. As stated in an earlier review, the six books of the Balkan and Levant Trilogies are based on the author's own experiences.

Harriet's view of her husband, of herself and the other characters gives food for thought. I could relate to Harriet very easily. I came to understand her and the compromises she made.

Is the author speaking of her own relationship with her husband? Reading this book you cannot help but pose this question. The book is exciting. Because you come to care for the characters. I guess you could say I am a bit annoyed. On completing this, the third book of the The Balkan Trilogy , I don't feel the story is complete!

Unfortunately, the The Levant Trilogy which follows the Balkan Trilogy, is not available in audio format! I have requested this at Audible emphasizing that the same narrator should be used, i. Harriet Walter. I believe that listening to this may actually have improved my appreciation of the story. Through Walter's narration each character gains an even fuller identity. You should meet Prince Yakimov, as Walter intones his dialect.

He is a wonderful, crazy character. I dare you to read this book and not fall in love with him. He is a Russian emigre, but not any Russian emigre. He traipses around in a long fur-lined coat which he tells everyone umpteen times his father got as a gift from the czar!

What happens to him will bring tears to your eyes. In the beginning you smile at his antics, his storytelling, his drinking, his borrowing and insatiable hunger. By the end you love him. I highly recommend the Balkan Trilogy - for its history, for its character portrayals and for its vivid depictions of people and places and events. If it were only to record the historical events it could have been much shorter, but in this book the point is to understand people and the choices they make.

One should read the entire trilogy from start to finish in one go. Friends and Heroes The Levant Trilogy pages View all 13 comments. Many of the characters who populated the first two novels also appear here, including Dubedat, Lush and Prince Yakimov. Indeed, so isolated is Harriet when she arrives that Yakimov, previously despised by her as an unwanted presence in her life, and her apartment, now becomes a friendly face in an unknown city. Guy had worked in the English department of the University in Bucharest, but, once in Greece, he finds that Dubedat, Lush and Professor Pinkrose are unwilling to help Guy with work — as he once helped them.

Indeed, this novel sees her attracted to Charles Warden, as she feels her marriage means little to Guy, who has time for everyone but her, in a life taken up by providing entertainment for the troops and pouring his attention on students and friends. Harriet believes she has escaped the danger and upheaval of Bucharest for a better life in Athens.

However, as optimism in Greece turns again to disquiet, rumour and encroaching danger, you worry that Harriet will never find her feet in a constantly unstable Europe — mirrored in her rocky, unsteady marriage. She wants certainty and safety and had hoped to find that within her marriage, but now she is unsure whether Guy is the man to provide that for her. Apr 18, James rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , war-and-travel , history. The final instalment of the Balkan Trilogy was my favourite. Married Guy and Harriet have escaped from Romania and arrived in Athens.

Against the backdrop of Greece's early military success against Italy and final defeat once Germany invaded, the couple continue to struggle with their marriage, friends and career. Manning's affection for Greece shines through and gives the book a warmer glow then the abhorred Romanians. There is an undramatic verisimilitude to the preoccupations of the character The final instalment of the Balkan Trilogy was my favourite. There is an undramatic verisimilitude to the preoccupations of the characters during the war period, of course they on a day to day basis are more interested in how their husband sabotages himself or where the next meal is coming from.

Finally there is just that little bit more of plot allowing one to get that more engrossed in the events. A slog of a read but one which eventually provided rich reward. Mar 02, Cheyanne rated it really liked it.


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I give this trilogy four stars overall because of the unique perspective it offers on the approaching catastrophe of WWII as it was experienced by middle-class people in Europe at the time. Although I admit I had not heard of Manning until recently, it seems that her novels are largely fictionalized memoirs and contain her first-hand observations of the people and events she writes about.

The Balkan Trilogy: The Great Fortune The Spoilt City Friends And Heroes

At any rate, like Harriet, the main character in the "Balkan Trilogy" novels, she was married to an English I give this trilogy four stars overall because of the unique perspective it offers on the approaching catastrophe of WWII as it was experienced by middle-class people in Europe at the time.

At any rate, like Harriet, the main character in the "Balkan Trilogy" novels, she was married to an English instructor assigned to various foreign posts. In the first two novels in the series, Harriet and her increasingly disappointing husband begin their married life in Bucharest and watch it slowly fall to fascist militias controlled by Hitler. They escape, at virtually the last moment, to Athens, where "Friends and Heroes" is set.

Spoils of War

At first, their sojourn in this beautiful, ancient city is refreshing-- although Harriet's principal refreshment is flirtation with a handsome British officer. But the Nazi noose slowly tightens around Greece as well and, despite the heroic resistance of the Greek army, siege-like conditions finally give way to blitzkrieg. I can understand why some reviewers felt the pace of these novels was too slow and meandering, with too few sympathetic characters and too much attention to the heroine's personal life.

I too think that a couple hundred pages could have been edited out of the trilogy. On the other hand, the personal details and the understated description of the big international events also made the story more credible as an historical account. We often wonder why people living in Europe in the s didn't "see things coming" or just "get out in time.

Description

The novels also demonstrate how the war developed slowly -- with isolated acts of violence and political coups that could be ignored or explained away. And the final chapters of "Friends and Heroes," which are some of the best in the whole series, convey the overwhelming nature of the full Nazi onslaught when it finally came.

Following on from the events in the previous novel, Harriet Pringle is newly arrived in Athens, her husband Guy has stayed behind in Bucharest. Rumania — where the Pringles have been living since their marriage at the start of the war is under German occupation, and most of the ex-pat community have left or are in the process of leaving.

Harriet is in a fever of anticipation waiting for Guy to arrive in Athens. Yakimov, and his sable lined greatcoat is already in Athens, and despite previously h Following on from the events in the previous novel, Harriet Pringle is newly arrived in Athens, her husband Guy has stayed behind in Bucharest. Yakimov, and his sable lined greatcoat is already in Athens, and despite previously having disliked him Harriet has become much fonder of him, and it is Yakimov who first brings Harriet news of Guy.

Oct 29, Hollyberye rated it it was amazing. I adore Olivia Manning's Balkan and Levant Trilogies, and highly recommend them as great literature and history. I have re-read them so often, that I have lost count. In this third installment, I become more reconciled with my annoyances toward Guy and Yaki, and appreciate the complexities and vulnerability of Harriet even more. The panoply of characters are deftly drawn. Manning is marvelously skilled at depicting the extra-ordinariness of ordinary people.

I recently read some rather nasty comme I adore Olivia Manning's Balkan and Levant Trilogies, and highly recommend them as great literature and history. I recently read some rather nasty comments Lawrence Durrell made about Manning, contemporaneously, but I feel Olivia Manning is the one history favours Jan 14, Anne rated it really liked it. This is a story that so on many of us never encountered -- the pushing out of all the British and the slower encroachment of German forces into the Balkan states.

Friends And Heroes

Looking forward to the next trilogy to pick up with these characters as ND this story. The last book in this trilogy moves the action to Athens, where things are as uncertain as they were in Rumania. There are new and old friends, all waiting for something to happen as food gradually becomes scarce.

It's hard to convey how much I've loved these books and their very human and personal approach to war. The final instalment sees Harriet and Guy in Athens where they meet up again with the inveterate sponger Yakimov. The cloak-and-dagger stuff is still going on amid expat intrigue and love affairs. The series as a whole is great, like some sort of papery soap opera happening in your hands as the whole continent slides closer to the brink. Mar 17, Eddie rated it it was amazing.

A wonderful last novel of the first trilogy. The writing was consistent throughout. I felt like I was living with the characters in their world. Sep 12, Carole Frank rated it it was amazing. This continued the story of Harriet and Guy Pringle. They are forced to leave Bucharest because of the escalating war plus the fact that the German army are expected there any day, so they move to Athens, along with their friends, including Yakimov. At first things are a little difficult for Guy, as his job as a university lecturer seems to be at an end, but things do get sorted out.

However, it seems that war is following them there, and there are increasing worries and tensions about what to d This continued the story of Harriet and Guy Pringle. However, it seems that war is following them there, and there are increasing worries and tensions about what to do. Jun 24, Al rated it really liked it.