Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Levant trilogy by Olivia Manning
MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
454922,953 (3.9)82



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 82 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Having already read The Balkan Trilogy, I was eager to read The Levant Trilogy, the last three books of Olivia Mannings’ massive World War II opus, Fortunes of War. It did not disappoint me. Like the first, this second trilogy is as much about the Harriet and Guy Pringle’s marriage as it is about the War. In fact, the war is more distant in these three books, even when Rommel’s army is just fifty miles away.

The first two books in the trilogy, The Danger Tree and The Battle Lost and Won, take place in Cairo where the Pringles fled after the fall of Greece. As in The Balkan Trilogy, there is another character who carries part of the weight of the story. This time its Simon Boulderstone. He is far less interesting than Prince Yakimov whose death in Greece was senseless and perfect for being so senseless. Simon, though, is nothing like Yakimov. He’s maturing, growing from youth to maturity. He is the anti-Yakimov, suffering from a highly developed sense of responsibility, not fecklessness.

Guy is still Guy, gregarious and popular, spreading himself too thin and ultimately, selfish in his disregard for his wife Harriet. Harriet, though, is changing, coming into her own, finding her own friends, exploring Cairo on her own. At the end of the second book, she’s done with Guy’s disregard and decides to go back to England on a special evacuation ship. At the last minute, she goes with some Wrens to Syria, purely on impulse, not really sure what she plans to do.

This brings us to the last book, The Sum of Things, where she is exploring Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine while Guy is back in Cairo, believing her dead along with all the others who died on that transport ship. For the first time, Guy’s friends point out that he was a neglectful, selfish husband. He begins to see things through her eyes. The incident from the second book that provoked Harriet’s decision to leave is revisited twice in this final book, by both Guy and Harriet. She had been given a brooch with rose diamonds by her friend Angela, a valuable gift she loved. Guy took it from her to give to another woman, not for romantic reasons, but because he though it an appropriate addition to her costume for a show he was producing. Seeing it on that woman, now that Harriet is dead, he demanded its return. Harriet also retold that story, to the woman who first gave the brooch to her, an example of Guy’s disregard for her feelings.

The Levant Trilogy is fascinating. It gives us a very revealing and deep look at a world that is long gone in Cairo, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. Harriet is an acute observer of people and interested in the people, places and history. She explores. She is also growing into a more self-confident and independent woman. Manning died that year the last of the three books in this trilogy was published. Many assume a third trilogy that would cover the last two years of the war was planned. That makes sense as the end seems incomplete.

However, it’s still satisfying. I was happy to see Harriet leave Gus. She was offered options. Other men are drawn to her and she had chances, in Romania, in Greece, in Syria, in Lebanon…but she realizes, it seems, that there is freedom in Gus’s self-absorbed disregard. And now she has a taste for freedom.

http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/the-levant-trilogy-by-oliv... ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Mar 10, 2017 |
Interesting conclusion to the story that began with 'The Balkan Trilogy'. ( )
  cazfrancis | Jun 15, 2014 |
I admit that I saw the "Masterpiece Theatre" series first. I also admit I'll watch Emma Thompson read the phone book. Still, Olivia Manning wrote a fine novel that leaves forever dangling an interesting question, "Was her husband, Guy, a spy or not?" Otherwise it shows how a set of civilians dealt with the war. Good atmosphere, good research probably because she was there. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Aug 30, 2013 |
Vivid characters. I didn't want it to end. ( )
  Just1MoreBook | Oct 31, 2010 |
I couldn't wait to read this sequel to Manning's "The Balkan Trilogy" because I was so enthralled both by the story of Harriet and Guy Pringle and their life at the edge of the beginning of the second world war and by Manning's excellent and psychologically insightful writing. Alas, although many reviewers seem to consider "The Levant Trilogy" superior to the Balkan, I have the opposite opinion.

In "The Levant Trilogy," Manning broadens her view to consider another protagonist, Simon Boulderstone, a young officer posted to Egypt at the time when the Germans are 50 miles from Alexandria, and the war in the desert in general. His story is alternated with that of Harriet and Guy, who have landed in Cairo, having escaped from Greece just ahead of the Nazis at the end of "The Balkan Trilogy." Diluting the concentration of the focus on Guy and Harriet and their immediate circle, and expanding the view to the war itself in addition to its impact on the everyday life of civilians, reduced the intensity of the story. The peripheral characters seemed less carefully drawn, and were on the whole less interesting than those in the previous trilogy, and Harriet's trips to Luxor and then to Syria and Jerusalem seem almost designed to provide a travelogue, and minimally to advance the plot and her psychological development.

I did enjoy the book, and it did once again provide an interesting look at life at the edge of war, as well, this time, at the war itself, but I missed the intensity of Manning's focus on the place and the psychology of her characters and their relationships, including Harriet and Guy's marriage, in the first trilogy.
1 vote rebeccanyc | Apr 19, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Romania, 1939. Despite his new bride's serious misgivings, British professor Guy Pringle becomes enmeshed in the politics of anti-facism, setting the stage for their marriage to be tested by accidental betrayal, callous insensitivity, and a world in upheaval.… (more)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
4 avail.
24 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.9)
1 1
2.5 2
3 15
3.5 12
4 34
4.5 5
5 16

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 118,583,847 books! | Top bar: Always visible