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76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History repeating itself........, 19 May 2007
This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (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
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Mr. Edward Gregory "Ed G" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (Mass Market Paperback)
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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82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before Mayle and Mayes came Durrell., 22 Jun 2001
This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (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
This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I ever read., 13 Sep 2010
By 
J.M. Tissot van Patot (Rotterdam, Nederland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (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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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of two cultures, 3 Feb 2007
By 
Dr. E. Korusoy (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars why has this book not been made into a mini series, 6 April 2010
By 
Mr. K. Puddephatt "kp" (fareham uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (Mass Market Paperback)
Other reviewers are being a bit pedantic over the title of this superb book. Yes it was first published as bitter lemons, but I think the new title gives it more gravitas.
Firstly, if you know nothing about the troubles that has plagued the beautiful island of Cyprus,then this may give you an inkling and a desire to explore more about the history.
Lawrence Durrell, brother of Gerald, writes with humour and warmth about his short stay on the Island, and gives his viewpoint on how the troubles there got steadily worse!
To begin with his adventure there is interwoven with colourful characters, that many of us would recognise from our short trips to the mediterranean area, and that we can readily relate to and sympathise with.
There are moments of sublime hilarity, the saga of buying his house made me laugh out loud, and also of great sadness as the troubles slowly tear the heart out of the community.
Read and be enchanted and saddened, his prose is so poetic, and he paints pictures with his words so well.
And then, if you haven't already, go to Cyprus follow in his footsteps and experience The tree of idleness for yourself!!! !! !(but not the taverna of the same name!!! !! !)Bitter Lemons of Cyprus
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, 13 Feb 2009
By 
T. Stonehouse - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (Mass Market Paperback)
Lawrence Durrell's personal account of Cyprus during the troubled period leading up to independence is fascinating. It throws a great deal of light on the complex problems surrounding Cyprus's emergence from colonial status, even if, in his anxiety to include all the essential issues, in one chapter the author lapses into a rather tedious "listy" style. The vast majority of his book is, however, an excellent read and the descriptions of characters Durrel met and worked with are wonderfully informative and entertaining.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry in Motion, 4 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (Mass Market Paperback)
First and foremost Durrell was a great poet. When he writes, this leads to a wonderfully descripitive use of words.The language embraces the subject matter and what flows from his pen is nothing short of poetic imagery. You get the feeling of being there with him, drinking Raki with the locals, driving along the coastal roads, stopping at an ancient ruin and listening to it speak of its glorious past.

As the country shakes off the colonial shackles and fights for its freedom, Durrell caught in the middle, shares the pain of the locals and struggles with the inept British administration he has become a part of.
Durrell loved Cyprus and its people, as he did the Greeks and their lands in general. Reading this book will transform you into his and their lives and you will be enriched by the experience.

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enduring masterpiece, 22 Nov 2013
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. His interpretation of teenage girls' curiosity about their foreign teacher as attraction may display just a touch of vanity, but throughout the narrative convinces the reader of its participation in events, rather than its invention of them.

Bitter Lemons is replete with the keen observations and arresting reflections of an interested traveller. Here is someone who immerses himself in local life and culture. He does not come to study this society as a detached observer, an anthropologist, self-defined, pointed towards a self-directed purpose. Neither does he come to impose his own values, assumptions or will on communities whose social interaction and culture clearly do not conform to his own values. Lawrence Durrell seems to rejoice in the differences he records and he usually stops short of judgment when confronted with experiences that contradict his expectations. And he speaks Greek.

But Bitter Lemons is also a political book. It attempts no analysis and so always stays on the journalistic, even impressionistic side of events. There is a movement to break colonial ties, to end colonial rule. ENOSIS is a concept that embodies Cypriot union with Greece. EOKA is a military campaign, a terrorist action in current terminology, designed to fight the British. And sure enough, there is Durrell, already on the island, already accepted in his community, already a Greek speaker, a ready-made listening post for local gossip, and an intelligent gatherer of intelligence. Thus he is adopted by the colonial authorities and paid for his services.

Lawrence Durrell never really tells us the nature or extent of his duties. The activities he describes within the covers of Bitter Lemons suggest that his presence was low key, perhaps inconsequential, rendering him little more than another observer, even at his most active. But surely reality was tougher than he describes and there must be at least one more book in here that might relate what he actually did.

Well before the end, the eventual direction of events seems assured. There will be struggle, death, injury, treachery and finally accommodation, however ephemeral. But the real joy of Bitter Lemons is Durrell's ability to communicate the seriousness of the conflict and aspiration through a prism of continued affection and association. There is a story of a young man who postpones his joining of the armed struggle for independence from the British because he has won a university place in England. There is also the committed anti-cleric who observes that opposition is expressed through affection. And thus, via a light, impressionistic touch, Lawrence Durrell creates a text that delves surprisingly deep into a complex but enduring relationship between nations, cultures and interests.
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Bitter Lemons of Cyprus
Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell (Mass Market Paperback - 3 July 2000)
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