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Bitter Lemons of Cyprus [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence Durrell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus is Lawrence Durrell's unique account of his time in Cyprus, during the 1950s Enosis movement for freedom of the island from British colonial rule. Winner of the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, it is a document at once personal, poetic and subtly political - a masterly combination of travelogue, memoir and treatise.

'He writes as an artist, as well as a poet; he remembers colour and landscape and the nuances of peasant conversation . . . Eschewing politics, it says more about them than all our leading articles . . . In describing a political tragedy it often has great poetic beauty.' Kingsley Martin, New Statesman

'Durrell possesses exceptional qualifications. He speaks Greek fluently; he has a wide knowledge of modern Greek history, politics and literature; he has lived in continental Greece and has spent many years in other Greek islands . . . His account of this calamity is revelatory, moving and restrained. It is written in the sensitive and muscular prose of which he is so consummate a master.' Harold Nicolson, Observer

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Amazon Review

While Cyprus is often touted as a tourist destination, the origins of the prolonged war between the island's Greek and the Turkish communities are less well known. In Bitter Lemons of Cyprus--first published in 1957--Lawrence Durrell blends the story of beginning a new life in this beautiful place with an account of the conflict's beginnings. It is a narrative that retains political relevance today.

The book starts out like something by Peter Mayle or Chris Stewart, a forerunner of the "good life abroad" genre. Durrell is a hard-up writer looking for Mediterranean peace and a stunning old house--Cyprus obliges. But circumstances and Durrell's poetic genius ensure that the book is far more than a glib chronicle of hilarious events and eccentric neighbours. These exist in plenty, and Durrell writes about them with zest and great wit, but slowly he gets drawn into the unfolding tragedy of Cyprus's battle for self-determination.

The revolt ignites, and Durrell's tranquil life is shattered. His stay on Cyprus becomes one of great sadness, which he communicates with restrained fury as he describes the political transformations and paradoxes that overtake the island. In his poetic and loving descriptions of places and people--most of them remarkably steadfast in the face of political convulsions--there is an empathy and an attention to detail which provides a poignant memorial to a life which, it becomes clear, was shattered as much by the indolence of men in grey suits as by the violent spirits of the hills. --Toby Green


"Sach's confiding tone draws us intimately into this vanished world." (The Sunday Times)

"Andrew Sachs' narration glows. He creates the world of Greek and Turkish Cypriots with warmth and humour, without a trace of caricature." (The Oldie)

"Anything read by Andrew Sachs is a joy." (The Guardian)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 618 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0571201555
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction; Main edition (15 Dec. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0072314G2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24,715 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History repeating itself........ 19 May 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The first issue here is over the name of the book, It is NOT `Bitter Lemons of Cyprus'; it was published as `Bitter Lemons', and that title has far more contextual meaning. Lemons are bitter sweet, and that defines Durrell's relationship with Cyprus, his village, the villagers and indeed the UK, which he generally referred to as Pudding Island. I will declare an interest: I adore Cyprus; this book was a main reason for me to visit, and subsequently, some 20 years ago we bought an arty house in a beautiful village. We have spent eight years living amongst some of the most generous, open and warm-hearted people on earth. This rings out from Durrell's book too. His descriptions are precise, accurate, affectionate and objective. In parallel with his attempts to make a home in the fabulously arty and beautiful village of Bellapaix, we watch in horror as the strategic political hypocrisies and cynicism play out at courtyard level. This era of Mediterranean history is not without shame for all the actors involved in it, and the victims are invariably the individuals caught up in the dangerous world of international politics mixed with nationalism, fear and misunderstandings; made the more dangerous by external meddling. Sounds horribly familiar to events elsewhere in the world, thereby proving that those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them. This book is a salutary lesson of the problems faced not only in buying a house in a foreign country, but also the problems of buying acceptance into a foreign culture, and inevitably the tragic price of failure. Bitter sweet. Bitter Lemons, indeed.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars v good 5 Jun. 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting read describing life in N Cyprus at a pragticularly difficult time in its history. Vivid word pictures of local populace, of terrain and of life in the area at the time. Recommended for anyone with an interest in social history, travel, life in the 50s
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85 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before Mayle and Mayes came Durrell. 22 Jun. 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Forget all those insipid Peter Mayle books and the myriad imitations that they spawned. This is the real thing; a book about settling in a new country, buying a house (the funniest chapter in the book) and the slow realisation that, politically, the situation is becoming untenable. Bitter Lemons, which starts off so optimistically, is a sad commentary on the inability of people to get along with each other. Take this book away with you this summer and Mr Durrell's unique ability to evoke the Spirit of Place (see his collected letters) will stay with you and haunt you long after you return home from your tame Greek beach holiday.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good read 11 Dec. 2011
By marj
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Have been to North Cyprus several times as I have family there, when visiting Bellapais, everyone makes a big thing about Laurence Durrell and his book, and yet probably, most people (like me)have never heard of him or the book,so I decided I must read it. I could not put it down, it is rich in description, and because I am familiar with the areas he talks about, it transports me there.I do not know if you would read or appreciate the book if you had not visited this beautiful island which has had so much tragic history, but if you are planning going, read the book or take it with you, and read it while sitting with your coffee, in the shadow of Bellapais Monastary.
one more thing, the house buying process has not changed much in 50 years!!!!!
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 6 Jun. 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book to read on holiday and i am glad i did. I was actually in cyprus when i read it. The characters are brilliant and to think they were real. The episode where he is buying the house is hilarious,i found myself reading faster and faster as the sale got more fast and furious. A good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enduring masterpiece 22 Nov. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell is one of those end of Empire books that many British writers attempted in the decades that followed the Second World War. Durrell's corner of the ever-to-be-sunlit territory was Cyprus, which in the 1950s was embarking on its own bid for independence and boasted its own continuing sunlight. The book has long been acknowledged as a classic of its indefinable kind, that mix of biography, travel, politics and memoir that is obviously literary whilst not apparently aspiring to literature. It is an impressionistic but deeply serious account of the experience of a participant in the brewing trouble and change. And now, almost sixty years after its publication, Bitter Lemons still has much to say about its setting and subject.

Lawrence Durrell went to Cyprus in the 1950s. At the start of the book, it is not obvious that he will soon be an employee of HM Government, a colonial officer charged with making sense of events that were already rapidly running towards violence and insurrection. The author's arrival and initial activity as a teacher form a light but keenly observed prelude to the book's later journey. The purchase of a village house in Ballapaix is both comical and empathetic. There is much that is farcical, but throughout the author presents himself as merely another participant. Nowhere does he express anything other than respect and affection for the local foibles and nowhere does he appear to place himself either detached from or in control of events. Equally, the school in which Lawrence Durrell works displays much that is caricature, but the scenarios are never anything less than completely credible.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb - and even better when read while on holiday in the areas mentioned in the book!
Published 1 month ago by C. Matthews
4.0 out of 5 stars its good but the name puts me off it seams like ...
its good but the name puts me off it seams like an interesting story but bitter lemons sounds a bit over used a better tital could be rocky mountains of Cyprus or icy paths of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by K. Crabtree
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
Beautifully written, funny, honest and informative. I loved this book.
Published 5 months ago by Tim Wildish
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece of writing..
Brilliant book covering that difficult period for the island. Have read twice and will probably read again.
Published 5 months ago by Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read if wordy.
An interesting read if rather old-fashioned writing for now-a-days, even heavy going in parts.I would have enjoyed reading more about his life in Cyprus and less details of the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by S Humphreys
3.0 out of 5 stars Value for money
Good condition .very pleased
Published 6 months ago by Mrs.Sara Baggott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Captures Cyprus and it's people beautifully
Published 6 months ago by Fytiman
5.0 out of 5 stars I have read yth9is my self many years ago, ...
I have read yth9is my self many years ago, so this time I bought it as a Christmas present to enlighten my friend.
Published 7 months ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative read
Really enjoyed this book. Was inspired to download it because we were on holiday in Northern Cyprus. Had read it years ago but it was well worth reading again. Read more
Published 8 months ago by L. Sweeting
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
If you are lucky enough to visit North Cyprus Lawrence Durrell's Bitter Lemons of Cyprus is a "must" read.
Published 8 months ago by mac009
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