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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travel writing with teeth
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...
Published on September 25, 2001 by W. Weinstein

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars flowery descriptions abound
Good late history of Cyprus by an Englishman, but the flowery descriptions were way too often out of place and even laughable.
Published 20 months ago by Ronald Stephen Legge


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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travel writing with teeth, September 25, 2001
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (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 vacation on the beach.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really delightful book!, December 11, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (Paperback)
I read this book in high school, on my own, after reading an excerpt in another book. It's really a delightful read--sad, funny, wistful, frustrated and mostly just full of life. My favorite scene, the one I read in the excerpt, is in the long evening in the wine shop--it's so wise and funny and raucous you'll laugh out loud.
Please read Bitter Lemons--you'll be happy you did.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lost time and place, July 29, 2004
By 
krebsman (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (Paperback)
I read this book because I'm planning a trip to Cyprus next year. My only previous exposure to Lawrence Durrell's work was PROSPERO'S CELL, his evocative memoir of Corfu. In that book, he tells of having to leave the beautiful island because of the impending World War II. In BITTER LEMONS, Durrell once again finds an island paradise that he has to leave because of political violence. The early chapters of the book are mostly humorous sketches about the lazy life of beautiful Cyprus and the colorful local characters. His happy island home becomes a kind of salon for globetrotting artists and intellectuals. Then about halfway through the book, political trouble starts brewing and terrorism becomes a fact of daily life, destroying Durrell's friendships with the people he had come to love. During this crisis, Durrell, a schoolmaster, is enlisted to serve as an administrator in the British government. There, he finds himself in the frustrating position of watching the crisis escalating all around him and being powerless to do anything about it. Durrell documents the events leading up to a standoff between the British and the Cypriots, primarily the result of British bureaucratic indifference. The book is beautifully written. Durrell was a poet and novelist and his descriptive prose evokes the colors, tastes and smells of the island in a way that is very moving. I enjoyed the early part of the book more than the parts dealing with politics. Durrell could easily have written this as two books and, in a way, I wish he had. The book left me with a terrible sense of loss, but that is perhaps what Durrell intended. This is a sad book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, funny, and sad, July 19, 2003
This book, along with a couple by Henry Miller and a few others of Durrell's, was responsible for causing my husband and me to leave life and jobs in LA and move to Greece for nearly a year. Bitter Lemons is part memoir, part political commentary, part travel writing, and part philosophy. It's the story of Durrell's fairly brief stay on the island of Cyprus, conflict between Greeks and Turks, impending world war, buying a house and trying to settle into a unique niche of the world. It's a book about Life and all its myriad difficulties.
Tip-top - and wonderful writing. It's one of those books whose memory will stay with me always.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sadder but Wiser, April 24, 2012
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (Paperback)
The book begins so pleasantly and happily, and not knowing that Cyprus's political problems began as early as the mid-1950s, I was surprised by the depressing, paradoxical story to follow. Durrell's language and imagery are so rich that I sometimes wonder whether he overwrites -- and then you come across passages of such extraordinary wisdom and insight (such as his description of terrorism) that it makes at least this reader question if he has enough intelligence to criticize Durrell about anything.

Make no mistake -- this is ultimately a sad, unhappy book about the folly of political and ethnic loyalties. But you will be richer for the experience.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cyprus in the 1950's, July 15, 2010
By 
Kindle Customer (Cyprus and the Gulf) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (Paperback)
I read this book about three years ago before moving to Cyprus. I bought it for my husband's birthday this June, and he enjoyed his first read of Bitter Lemons. I have just finished rereading it and found it much more interesting reading the descriptions of places I know well, especially Bellapais. I wonder who owns the house now?

An excellent story setting the scene for the troubles of the 1950s that is even more poignant right now since the new memorial stones in the British Cemetery in Kyrenia list all the military personnel killed in those troubles. Many of their relatives attended the unveiling service last November 2009. Most of the soldiers, air personnel, sailors and police were under 25 when they died. Lawrence Durrell's book just shows how (in my humble opinion) unnecessary it all was.

Cyprus remains a beautiful place. We have lemons in our garden. The Tree of Idleness still stands. All we need now is a sequel.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travel and unease, January 9, 2002
By 
frumiousb "frumiousb" (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (Paperback)
_Bitter Lemons_ begins as you would expect a piece of travel writing to do-- with Durrell's impressions about Cyprus, some history, the stories of his first days there and the way in which he comes to make himself a home on the island.
Where it ultimately goes, however, is somewhere far different than most travel writing. Durrell is drawn into the conflict around Cypriot independence and is forced to examine his position as expatriot in a troubled environment.
The initial chapters of the book are so lovely and the scenes sketched so charming, that something in the reader rebels when the book turns its attention to the problem of terrorism and the echos of violence. That very quality, of course, is what lifts the book above the average travel book as it creates a Cyprus for the reader than is far more real-- not just a utopian garden existing somewhere far, far away for the weary reader to someday visit.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding, potentially life changing. a classic, January 14, 2006
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (Paperback)
I visited Mr. Durrell's house in 1991 while visiting my relatives in the American Embassy (it has a little sign that says Bitter Lemons). I didn't want to go to Cypress; it was just something to do to kill time one summer with my family. I read the book on the way there and finished it a day before the trip to the Turkish side of the island. It was like a light had been turned on and it has never been out since. I plan and I go everywhere now and as often as I can. Good enough to purchase another copy after 15 years of use.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, funny, and sad, March 24, 2004
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (Hardcover)
This book, along with a couple by Henry Miller and a few others of Durrell's, was responsible for causing my husband and me to leave life and jobs in LA and move to Greece for nearly a year. Bitter Lemons is part memoir, part political commentary, part travel writing, and part philosophy. It's the story of Durrell's fairly brief stay on the island of Cyprus, conflict between Greeks and Turks, impending world war, buying a house and trying to settle into a unique niche of the world. It's a book about Life and all its myriad difficulties.
Tip-top - and wonderful writing. It's one of those books whose memory will stay with me always.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, touching and moving, much like most of Hemingway's books, May 20, 2012
By 
Yoda (Hadera, Israel) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bitter Lemons (Paperback)
In the very first sentence of his book in the preface, Durrell starts out writing "This is not a political book, but simply a somewhat impressionistic study of the moods and atmospheres of Cyprus during the troubled years 1953-1956". In short, this is not a book one would want to read to obtain an idea of the geopolitical dimensions or counter-insurgency or even the domestic politics of Cyprus during this time. The strength of the book is the author's writing style and the "impressionistic" emotions surrounding his fictional trip to Cyprus. Most of the emotions stem not from major geopolitical events but in day to day encounters he has with the population and his various interactions with them. Nearly all of this are very basic but convey, like Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, the "feel" and emotions surrounding these interactions and the author's observations. They are as quite moving and touching. The book definitely deserves its reputation.
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