on 26 August 2001
Manning is undoubtedly the most underrated of 20th-century novelists, and though her Balkan and Levant trilogies have been better treated of late, her other novels remain little read. School for Love is one of the best. Ms Bohun is a great dramatic creation whose machinations affect everyone else, from Felix, the little boy who becomes her lodger, to Mrs Ellis, the lodger who rebels, to Mr Jewel, the old soldier who, out of favour, inherits money enough to become the object of her attentions again. The core of the book is Felix's entry to premature adulthood, his vision of the world around him (Jerusalem after the war) altered for ever by Miss Bohun and Mrs Ellis. Manning proves here that, even without a war as backdrop, she could create terrific characters and a wide range of emotions.
on 4 January 2008
As someone else commented on these reviews, Olivia Manning is for some reason one of the most underrated of British writers.
This book is a small masterpiece. Nothing much happens in itself, just a glimpse of a handful of lonely people whose lives have become divorced from reality because of the war. Against the background of wartime Palestine, we see a portrait of the flotsam and jetsam of lost, aimless lives -the young, orphaned boy, and his coming of age. Mrs Ellis, the young pregnant widow, little more than a child herself. Nikky and his mother Mrs Lazlo, Jewish refugees noone really cares about. Miss Bohun, a lonely spinster. All of these and more are drawn with an intricate hand which reveal a small portrait of life itself. This book is highly recommended.
on 26 January 2001
A young recentely orphaned boy, Felix, finds himself stuck in Jerusulem during the war. As he struggles to come to terms with the loss of his mother and burgeoning feelings towards a young widow he meets, Mrs Ellis, he has to deal with his fathers step sister and landlady Miss Bohun, leader of an unlikely cult and monsterous femme extrodinaire. Not above taking advantage of anybody whilst eliciting their sympathy's Miss Bohun is cold comfort for Felix, who must turn to her cat for affection. As the book progresses the readers feelings towards Miss Bohun turn from amusement to revuksion and back again with startling regularity. Althought the book addresses some heavy issues it is actually in parts a quite light hearted read, and whilst your heart strings are played mercilessly on occasion it is also a testimony to the bouyancey of human nature.
on 12 June 2010
Previous reviewers have already outlined the story of this magical short novel. I bought it after enjoying the Fortunes of War on tv years ago and am so pleased to have finally read the author. She very cleverly follows a few months in the life or an orphaned boy who goes from being a child to a young man, primarily through realsiing what a scheming but lonely person his landylady is. Miss Bohum is a vile, outrageous character just calling out for a filmed adaptation staring Dame Judi or Eileen or Imelda Staunton.