This English author, who, like Paul Scott, has not received much notice here, again writes of the war years, this time in Cairo, where the British ponder the possibility of Nazi occupation. And again Manning follows the Balkan Trilogy's Harriet and Guy Pringle, driven by the fortunes of war from Athens, maneuvering about to cope with Guy's pedagogical ambitions and hierarchical rascality. In counterpoint is the ebullient progress of young officer Simon, who is introduced to desert warfare and hopes to run into his brother Hugo. In a Cairo of flies, annoyances, beauty, and an overcast of fear, this trio joins the small British enclave--surrounded by cynical Eyptians and locked into individual obsessions: love, diversion, chicanery, or mere comfort. But, as with the mango tree outside Harriet's window, there are poisonous roots. Anxiety and alienation ignite Harriet's distrust of self-centered Guy, while Simon must face the reality of Hugo's death and the certainty of his own. Manning etches in the landscape and the intricate machinery of war--which devours so much that is exuberant and tender--with lyrical exactitude. And she has a fine ear attuned to the inventive and desperate converse of people flung together and ringed by fire.