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The Balkan Trilogy: "Great Fortune", "Spoilt City" and "Friends and Heroes" Paperback – 26 Nov 1981

4.2 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Paperback, 26 Nov 1981
£72.51 £0.01
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Product details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Reprint edition (26 Nov. 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140059369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140059366
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 578,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The most considerable of our women novelists."
--Anthony Burgess

"From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

"One of the finest fictional productions that Britain has seen since the war."- Anthony Burgess --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If only to contradict the entirely silly review currently on display, I feel I should say something about this remarkable trilogy. Before she died, Olivia Manning reckoned she had never received the recognition she deserved, and there are many today who would wholly agree with her. Her novels are among the finest works of twentieth-century English fiction, and her two war-time trilogies (which are in large measure autobiographical) deserve to be better known (and please don't be misled by the brief TV dramatization that tried to cram around six books into something like four hours). Manning is a prose stylist of remarkable ability, she has one of the best eyes for character in the business, she can write about British Council intrigue as readily as battle in North Africa. This trilogy takes the reader from Bucharest to Athens, the next on to Cairo and the struggle for Africa. Splendid locations, superb characters, profound insights, beautiful writing Ñ do yourself a favour, order this book now!
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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy consists of the novels: The Great Fortune, The Spoilt City and Friends and Heroes. The trilogy is a semi-autobiographical work based loosely around her own experiences as a newlywed in war torn Europe. The first book, “The Great Fortune,” begins in 1939, with Harriet Pringle going to Bucharest with her new husband, Guy. Guy Pringle has been working the English department of the University for a year and met, and married, Harriet during his summer holiday. As they travel through a Europe newly at war, one of the other characters on the train is Prince Yakimov, a once wealthy man who is now without influence or protection and who feels he is being unjustly ‘hounded’ out of one capital city after another. Harriet herself has virtually no family – her parents divorced when she was young and she was brought up by an aunt. In personality she is much less extrovert than Guy, who befriends everyone and expects to be befriended in turn. Throughout this novel I shared Harriet’s exasperation with her new husband, who constantly seems to care about everyone’s feelings, but ignores his new wife’s plight of being isolated in a new city, where she feels friendless and lonely.

This is the first in a book which introduces us to the characters and places that populate the trilogy. From ‘poor old Yaki’ who yearns constantly for a life now gone, to Guy’s boss, Professor Inchcape, to Guy’s colleague Clarence Lawson, whose company Harriet accepts when her own husband is too busy, to the scheming Sophie, who attempted to marry Guy for a British passport, to the journalists who cluster round the bars and cafes listening to rumours. For it is the phoney war and rumours abound about the possibility of the Germans invading.
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Format: Paperback
Far better than the first review suggests. I agree with the quotation from a review by Anthony Burgess which praises the dazzling array of personages and events. The evocation of Romania is wonderful. I was sorry to finish it.
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Format: Paperback
I have had this book on the shelf for a while and got round to reading it recently.
Hugely enjoyable. Fluent style, great characterisation, vivid descriptions of cities and countryside and a wonderful account of the downward spiral they find themselves in.
I do enjoy books sent in this time and with these characters - over-educated enthusiastic British communists, failed academics and artists, people with aristocratic pretensions, and above all British uselessness when confronted by the rigour and might of the 3rd Reich.
If like me you like Anthony Powell, Evelyn Waugh, Julian MacLaren-Ross, George Orwell (all different writers, I know) this is right up your street.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book mainly because it depicts a time in my city history that is not only long-gone but will apparently never return. The book constitutes itself as a perfect antithesis of the 70 years' ago Bucharest vs. today's one. Interesting reading, especially for those who know this city, and especially because the author herself was not a native thus putting herself away from any partisanship.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Olivia Manning felt that her literary worth had never been recognized, and with good reason. If one were to evaluate her work on the strength of the Balkan and Levant trilogies alone, she would stand head and shoulders above most writers of her generation. In an uncomplicated yet beautiful writing style, she tells the stories of individuals caught up in war, their lives suspended in Romania, Greece, and Cairo. The shadow of the Nazi threat hangs over everything they do and plan. Her main characters are as great as anything in Dickens or in much other literature. Guy Pritchard, a man loved by everyone, who cares deeply about his fellow human beings, is a disaster as a husband, and one of the most memorable (and irritating) characters in modern fiction. His wife Harriet carries the moral weight of the tale. In the first trilogy, the impoverished Count Yakimov (brilliantly played by Ronald Pickup in the otherwise appalling BBC adaptation) is outrageous and unforgettable. A host of other characters come in and out, creating a magnificent tapestry in a fiction you will want to return to often as the years go by.
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