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Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence Durrell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Product Description

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; New Ed 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 (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,490 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
77 of 82 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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83 of 90 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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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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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of two cultures 3 Feb. 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Hope, discovery, humour, tragedy and greed are portrayed with great literary skill in a captivating and very readable style in this excellent non-fictional story. Although easy to miss among the miriad of wonderful characters brought to life by Durell, there are some very real political undertones in comparisons with Crete and the description of the Greek revolt against British rule in the 1950s. The book implies that, in an attempt to keep hold of control over the island, Britain exploited the soured relationship between Greece and Turkey to set up a federation in 1960 that it knew would remain divided and in need of constant British involvement. Those familiar with the later tragic consequences in 1963 and 1974 will lament the the divide and rule policy of a dying British empire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Jay R
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I recently spent a week in Kyrenia and this book was recommended to me several times on the first day as background reading. Downloading it that evening, I read it with great pleasure and some surprise over the next few days. My image of the man was previously that of the effete older brother that Gerald Durrell portrayed as 'Larry' in 'My Family and Other Animals'. The person that comes over in this book is very different. He is observant and entertaining, with a lovely (if a little dated) turn of phrase. While the book is essentially autobiographical about his three years living in Bellapais in the early 1950's, through his friendships with a wide range of amusing local characters we get the background to the EOKA uprising which broke out against the British in 1955. The book clearly draws heavily on his notes made at the time and was published only two or three years later. It gives a very real impression of an unwilling uprising born of frustration that could have been resolved at a local level but became unmanageable once it became an international issue. In that sense it is a sad but very human book. Forty-three years ago I served as part of the United Nations Force in Cyprus - some time after the Eoka uprising. I wish I had known to read the book then.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I ever read. 13 Sept. 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is one of the most inspiring books I ever read. I loved it cover to cover. This one and "Esprit the corps" are really funny at places, but also moving tales of living in other cultures. The tragic history of modern Cyprus is an alarming background of this very personal tale.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
Beautifully written, funny, honest and informative. I loved this book.
Published 4 days 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 14 days 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 24 days ago by S Humphreys
3.0 out of 5 stars Value for money
Good condition .very pleased
Published 1 month ago by Mrs.Sara Baggott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Captures Cyprus and it's people beautifully
Published 1 month 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 1 month 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 3 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 3 months ago by mac009
5.0 out of 5 stars One of life's memorable books
I started reading this in the airport in the UK. I finished reading sitting on the balcony of my hotel on Kyrenia's harbour front - surrounded but the sounds and smells of Cyprus. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Clare Jackson
4.0 out of 5 stars It was beautifully written but became too political for my taste
As I had been in Cyprus I wanted to read this. It was beautifully written but became too political for my taste.
Published 4 months ago by eileen
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