Olivia Manning (1908-1980) was a British writer. Her first real success as a novelist was The Great Fortune, the first of six books concerning Guy and Harriet Pringle, whose wartime experiences and troubled marriage echoed that of the diffident Manning and her gregarious husband. In the 1980s these novels were collected in two volumes, The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy, known collectively as Fortunes of War. In addition to her novels, Manning wrote essays and criticism, history, a screenplay, and a book about Burmese and Siamese cats. She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1976, and died four years later. In addition to The Balkan Trilogy, NYRB Classics has also published Manning’s novel School for Love.
This sequel to Manning’s Balkan trilogy follows Guy and Harriet Pringle as they flee the German advance from Greece and settle in Egypt. Once again Manning introduces the reader to an unforgettable cast of characters—swindlers, actors, soldiers, and diplomats—and brings to life WWII as it was lived in a grippingly specific place and time.
Olivia Manning’s great subject is the lives of ordinary people caught up in history. In both School for Love and The Balkan Trilogy, she offers a rich and psychologically nuanced story of life on the precipice.
A multi-stranded and engrossing novel of civilian life during World War II. “One of those combinations of soap opera and literature that are so rare you’d think it would meet the conditions of two kinds of audiences: those after what the trade calls ‘a good read,’ and those who want something more.” —Howard Moss, The New York Review of Books
A sadly sweet, yet peculiarly uplifting story about displaced people attempting to repair their broken lives at the end of the Second World War. At the center of the book is Felix, an orphan, who arrives at the Jerusalem home of his horrible holy-rolling aunt and is forced to grow up fast.