This great sweep of Durrell’s quartet is almost impossible to describe, but being Goobes, we are going to give it a shot!
Tis characters and the feeling of bing at wartime Alexandria are so perfect that you can almost smell and taste the perfume on Justine’s neck, hear the prayers from the mosques and smell the sand stained blood of camels butchered in the streets.
Here lie the poets and prostitutes, diplomats and gun runners. There is a plethora of scenes of lust and love and violence angst and despair.
The characters change as the story unfolds and then recoils upon itself again. We are as confused as the characters themselves and never find ourselves in a position where we understand events before they do. Myriad scenes tumble upon each other; a bird shoot on Lake Mareotis, the masquede ball, the strange death of Pursewarden, the dreadful death of Narouz. Across four volumes Durrell seldom puts a foot wrong and while his sonorous prose is not to everyone’s taste, nobody can deny that this is certainly an under rated classic of the twentieth century.
After the grim years of the Second World War and the grey, slow grind of the 1950s, the novel must have burst upon literary Europe like a banshee streaking across the sky giving enlightenment at a time of darkness.
Essential book for anyone who considers themselves well-read.