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The Balkan Trilogy Paperback – May 1, 1982

23 customer reviews

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Paperback, May 1, 1982
$81.40 $6.23
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews


“The most considerable of our women novelists.”
—Anthony Burgess

From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Olivia Manning, OBE, was born in Portsmouth, England and spent much of her youth in Ireland. She married just before World War II and went to live in Bucharest with her husband. Her experience there formed the basis of the work that makes up The Balkan Trilogy. As the Germans approached Athens, she and her husband evacuated to Egypt and ended up in Jeruslam where her husband worked at the Palestine Broadcasting Station. They returned to London in 1946 and lived there until her death in 1980.

From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 27, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140059369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140059366
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
This series of novels (consisting of The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy) focus on the lives of Guy and Harriet Pringle through the years of the second world war. Guy is a lecturer for the British Council and spends the war teaching in Bucharest, Athens and Cairo. The real war action is always close and threatening, never actually centre stage. The novel works well to provide a "ground up" view of war as it effects those civilians on its borders. However, the beauty of the work lies in the day -to -day portrait of a developing relationship. From newly weds to disaffection, through to quiet resignation Harriet and Guy are compelling and real, familiar and challenging. No other novel builds its characters in such detail, no other novel offers such profound insights into the killing familiarity of a marriage. The canvas is large, but the focus of events is on the daily monotony that drains the magic out of relationships but, silently, replaces it with the threads of shared experience and intimate knowledge that can prove a more effective cement . As well as a relationship, this is a catalogue of vivid characters. The prickly intelligent Harriet. The frustratingly socially promiscous Guy -a man you learn to despise and then, over the course of the novels, like a member of your family, to love as well. With them are a collection of secondary characters that are believable and fascinating in their own right as well as catalysts for the main protagonists. A book to read, and re-read and eventually to become part of the fabric of your life.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A reader on June 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm practically in mourning since I finished reading the last book in the Balkan Trilogy. Luckily, the story continues in the Levant Trilogy, which I plan to read soon. The three books of the Balkan Trilogy--The Great Fortune, The Spoiled City, and Friends and Heroes--tell the story of Guy and Harriet Pringle, a British couple living in Romania at the beginning of WWII. The story has many layers. First, there's a sense of place. Manning does a superb job describing Bucharest--a so-called Paris of the east--before the Iron Curtain fell. The beggars, the peasants, the demolition of beautiful old buildings, the gardens, cafes and restaurants, the abundent food. It all makes a colorful picture. Next is the story of the Pringles' friends: the hapless Prince Yakimov who has nothing but his witty repartee to recommend him, Clarence, who has a crush on Harriet, Inchcape, the stiff-upper-lip Brit, Dobson the diplomat, Sascha, the Jewish refugee they shelter in their apartment, Sophie, the Romainian student who has designs on Guy. All these characters are well drawn. Finally, these novels are the story of a marriage, told mainly from Harriet's perspective, we see the stress of being married to a Personality.

The author's note states that the books are written so that each can be read individually and independently from their mates. I think the story is much richer if all three books are read together, in order. The first novel sets the stage. In the second, the plot thickens. In the third, the Pringles have fled to Athens, one step ahead of the Nazis. By the end, they have become refugees, packed onto a decrepit ship headed for Egypt as the Nazis advance into Greece. The abundent food of the first novel is long gone. They are hungry and dirty, have had to abandon most of their possesions and even toilet paper is a precious commodity. (Each lady is given three squares: one wipe up, one down, and one polisher.) I can't wait to read the Levant Trilogy.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By ex nihilo on June 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read this trilogy, in the Penguin edition, as the first volume of Olivia Manning's "Fortunes of War". Composed of three novels, it narrates the evolution and growth of Harriet Pringle, from a young, unworldly and hopeful newlywed, to self aware, disillusioned, but profoundly humane cosmopolitan who wearily flees the German advance against the backdrop of WWII in southern Europe.

We meet the main character (Harriet, from whose point of view we see everyting)as she has recently married and is travelling, in the company of her husband, Guy, to Bucharest. WWII has just begun, and the young British couple finds many alarming signs of this in their way to the country where they intend to spend some time, since Guy has a teaching post there.

As we get to know them while they settle in Bucharest, we can see how Harriet and Guy are totally different in personality: while Guy is idealistic, open and gregarious, Harriet is reserved, not very talkative and even suspicious. These differences become apparent for them, as well as for those who know them, creating tension and misunderstandings in their married life. Harriet doesn't understand why Guy seems to love to be with everybody, and have a good time on top of that, and spends so little time with her. He also cares about everybody's problems except her own (she doesn't bother to give a clue about them, but anyway expects him to at least look interested).

All this would seem ordinary, boring, married life stuff,..... except that the setting is the very troubled Europe of the war.
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