After reading all six of the Fortunes of War novels I became a fan of Olivia Manning and sought out some of her other novels. School for Love is another good novel of hers, as is this one. But instead of being set in war time europe this novel is set on a fictional island Al Bustan.
Rather similar in style to the fortunes of war novels, it centres on the realtionship between Hugh and Kristy Foster who arrive on the island at a time of political upheaval and corruption.
Al bustan is a fictional island, but that makes it all the more appealing. Mrs Mannings descriptions are goergous and unless you knew that is wasn't real, you would think she had lives there herself like she had in the Balkans and the Levant. Descriptions of the islands landscapes, history, wildlife and geography are all beautiful and vividly written. The ending is chilling and will leave you feeling unsettled.
The only (quite big)glitch I found with it was that I didn't find myself sympathizing with the characters unlike in the fortunes of war series where I loved all of the characters, even the annoying and pathetic ones. Hugh and Kristy aren't as endearing as Guy and Harriet Pringle and it was only towards the end of the book that I found myself caring about them. Also, i didn't like any of the supporting characters. But other than that, well written and cleverly contrived, worth reading for the descriptive passages alone or if you are a fan of Olivia Manning.