THE GREAT FORTUNE by Olivia Manning


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Olivia Manning's first novel on this list (A Different Face; The Doves of Venus- Abelard-Schuman) has received high praise in England, and there is no question that she is a writer with admirable virtues- notably intellect, irony and acuity. While these are more austere than comfortable qualities, they still assure respect for her talent. Her new book is set in Bucharest, during the increasingly uneasy months of 1939 and 1940 when Rumania was poised between the German and the Russian danger, and had its own internal ills- the hatred of the King and the Iron Guard, more Nazi than the Pringle has been teaching there at the University, and returns with , his new . While is an imperturbable, immature, gregarious sort, Harriet is far more sensitive, aware and anxious. Alien to begin with, she often finds herself alone and she is generally of their small circle of acquaintances, and in particular of Sophie, who had wanted to marry Guy. There are several fine characterizations: , Guy's superior, Sophie; in particular Prince Yakimov, a professional and a "" on the bull of life""; there are many remarkable scenes, from the life of the city at large to the isolated English colony which finds escape, and a certain solidarity together in these days of Dunkirk and the fall of France. If the future is even more uncertain (and Harriet has not altogether reconciled her resentment of Guy), still the ""great fortune"" she recognizes is to ""have preserved life and hope"".... While more severe, and less sympathetic, this suggests a market comparable to Mary McMinnics' The .

Pub Date: July 14th, 1961
Publisher: Doubleday