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The Mediterranean is a favorite setting for Mr. Newby's novels. In Alexandria his new cast of characters of mock-heroic proportions now disentangle the mess engendered by one Miss Brent who enters Egypt in the midst of the Revolution and intends to capitalize on that event to promote her journalistic aspirations. Her disregard, however, for the proprieties of immigration procedure (she has no visa) lands her and her would-be British rescuers into the hands of Lieutenant Mahmoud Yehia, a revolutionary, who promptly falls in love with her. Untutored in the rules of European courtship, Yehia begs advice from Tim Blainey who unfortunately also became enamoured of Miss Brent when he met her on route. The unrequited love twice-told seems hopeless considering Miss Brent's tenuous position, enhanced by the charge of spying. After having escaped from the Neguibites, she is arrested by King Farouk's supporters in the process of seeking an audience with him. Happily, her projected punishments are reprieved through the diligence of Tim's brother Eric. Captain Yehia and Tim, who are also under arrest profit too from erudite Eric's quick thinking at an English Embassy party. The episode closes in Elaine's London apartment where a dinner party is going on -- attended by Yehia who seems to be making some headway and young Tim who is advancing arguments for the democratization of Egypt. The portraits of the Egyptian home philosopher, his emotionally irrational wife, Eric, timid Tim and the outspoken, ambitious Miss Brent are caricatures in a distinctly English tradition and the foibles and frailties of Homo Sapiens exposed by an impartial observer who excels in the humor of the understatement.

Publisher: Knopf