School For Love
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School For Love

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  159 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Orphaned, friendless and bewildered, young Felix Latimer comes to war-time Jerusalem to lodge with Miss Bohun, one of the most redoubtable (and ridiculous) of comic horrors in English fiction.
Published (first published 1951)
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Daisy
Faro.

Miss Bohun had not much to say, but she occasionally and with determination distracted Felix from something that interested him to show him something that did not.

This is a world I've never visited before in books, Jerusalem towards the end of World War 2. An English orphan boy arrives to live in the sort-of boarding house kept by a distant relative. I figure him to be between 13 and 16 years old. His coming-of-age here is so true and honest and still fresh, I loved spending time with him....more
Tamar Senyak
A beautiful telling of human adaptability to situations in which primal needs are not being met. What makes this book so compulsively readable is the weaving together of the lives of such developmentally different characters that have been brought together through impoverished circumstances. The teenage protagonist Felix seems to represent loss of a nuclear family, and how he copes with this loss through his constant search for a substitute for his deceased mother’s love. The two main female cha...more
Tanja
This is a wonderful book. It is a pleasure to read, the prose is beautiful. The back cover describes is as 'the most satisfying of Manning's books'. I have to admit, it is the only one that I have ever read, but what a way to be introduced to her work. The story is not new: the orphaned boy reduced to rely on the charity of a distant relative that is not the caring person she initially presents. But it is all so wonderfully presented. The insights into the various characters are fascinating. We...more
Audrey
After reading a bit about Manning's career, this book is not one of her better known (like the Balkan Trilogy series, or Fortunes of War). Her choice of a young, coming-of-age boy (Felix) as the main narrator was a great one - he is an open book and free from biases - thus a great person to look at a complex wartime environment through. The depiction of Jerusalem as a city of refugees was fascinating, especially as Arabs, Jews, and Christians lived side-by-side in apparent harmony. It made me wa...more
Lucinda Elliot
This is wonderfully evocative, sad and funny in turns, sometimes all at once. A masterly depiction of an appalling religious hypocrite, who is at the same time absurd. Unsentimentally it depicts the lonliness of poor young Felix, stranded in Jerusalem following World War Two, his desperate sense of loss in his mother, and his infatuation with a young English widow, Jane Ellis. At first longing to believe in the terrible Miss Bohun, he is forced through his loyalty to the clear sighted Jane Ellis...more
Kari
It's 1945 and Felix, a recently orphaned teenager, goes to live with a distant relative in Jerusalem to await passage back to England. Felix arrives at Miss Bohun's boarding house naive and free of biases; he still craves the attention given to him by his coddling mother but is forced to grow up and fend for himself. As Felix meets and interacts with an eclectic mix of characters, he learns that first impressions are not always accurate, personalities are not always genuine, and perhaps his moth...more
J.
Interesting 'open city' locale intersects with what becomes a microdrama set in a boarding house. Olivia Manning's account of an orphaned boy and his stay in wartime Jerusalem inhabits not so much the times and the setting, but the emotional atmosphere of the characters.

What proceeds as an intricate counterplay of intent and expectations wanders off at times into the realm of soap opera; this is longer than it needs to be, but the characters are convincing enough to carry it. Strangely the auth...more
Dorian
I adore the Balkan Trilogy, and am making my way through The Levant Trilogy. So I knew going into this that Olivia Manning is a writer with serious chops. (She's totally undervalued these days IMO.) But this book really astounded me.

The Trilogies' protagonist is the astringent, wise Harriet Pringle, a stand-in for Manning herself; I was interested, then, to see what Manning would do with a male protagonist. (I've learned from the new biography that most of Manning's works, in fact, are centered...more
Susann
In 1945, orphaned, naive teen Felix goes to stay at Miss Bohun's boarding house in Jerusalem. During the following months, Felix slowly and awkwardly grows up. His development is fairly interesting but, really, the story centers around the warped, miserly Miss Bohun.

I love this moment from Felix's first real tour of Jerusalem:
"Miss Bohun had not much to say, but she occasionally and with determination distracted Felix from something that interested him to show him something that did not."

When s...more
Leo Passaportis
It has been a decade since I read Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy. I read that in instalments because it was such a hefty collection. I remember thinking this is brilliant, but can I muster the energy to read and enjoy such a novel again? Well the good thing about 'School for Love' (and don't be put off by the soppy title) is that it is a heck of a lot shorter but still vintage OM. She's really, really good in her characterizations and how she develops them in tandem with the storyline. Razor sh...more
Alarie
In some ways this short, but seemingly long novel feels like a truncated Dickens’ story: the sad orphan, sent to stay with someone who’s cold, scheming, and out to take all they can from the child. Felix goes to live with his father’s adopted, spinster aunt in Jerusalem because World War II is still raging, so he can’t get back to England. He finds no friends his age, a dull life, an even duller diet, and only a Siamese cat named Faro to give his love. The aunt is almost a Miss Havisham: quirky...more
Lewis Manalo
Showing WWII Jerusalem from the point of view of a naive teenage boy, this slim volume has some marked highs and lows of emotion, yet, because of the lack of sophistication in our protagonist, the book can sometimes feel more lightweight than its subjects.

Touches of great description of place save the book from being merely a psychological allegory, and a few surprises in plot will keep you entertained and reading.
JodiP
I really don't know what to think of this quiet book. As I read, I kept wondering if anything was ever really going to happen. However, the characterizations drew me in, especially of course of Miss Bosun. What are her true motivations? How self-aware is she? Is she really so hypocritical? One subtle way in which Manning generated suspense is the fate of the cat. She is a big part of Felix's life, and you kept fearing Miss B. was going to do something horrible--I was so relieved by the ending. I...more
Elizabeth
"Coming of age" stories aren't usually my favorite, but this one was exceptional because of its psychological insight and its interesting setting, at the end of World War II among English refugees in Jerusalem. The only reason I gave it 3 instead of 4 stars was because it left me feeling somewhat pessimistic about human nature; I might revisit that after I think about it some more.
Kristie
I stumbled upon this book while looking for novels about WWI. It looked so interesting that I bought it even though it is set in Palestine at the end of WWII. It is absolutely wonderful- a real find- and has definitely gotten me onto reading more Olivia Manning. This book - about an orphaned boy who comes to live in a strange house in Palestine is a very charming and slightly dark story about love - or the lack thereof. The characters are quirky and memorable. If you happen to like cats (I do) a...more
Katharine Holden
Fascinating book, beautifully written. The bony woman keeping the front bedroom of the house ready for the Second Coming, the boy with only the cat to warm him, the lonely soldier who is not so lonely when offered nothing but beans for dinner, the Polish count in the servant's room....the weird, sad, funny, horrible world Olivia Mannings offers us.
aya
Oct 25, 2011 aya rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to aya by: chris j, andrea
Stunning in its fullness of character, wise in its understanding of the world. Manning so precisely portrays youthful, naive love that is almost despite oneself and the ways we can be incorrect about the world. also, as a bonus, one of the best cats written (tied with fanchette of the claudine novels).
Genie Austermann
One of Olivia Manning's best. The protagonist is a recently orphaned English boy marooned in Palestine at the end of World War II. Very subtle. I read it twice.
John
you'll never forget ms. bohun. the rest of the characters in this elegant, precise novel are just as memorable. they don't write them like this anymore. i wish they did.
Jonathan
Towards the end of the second world war, Jerusalem is the home to displaced people from countries affected by the conflict. The book begins with the arrival of Felix, orphaned and alone, to stay with his father's foster sister, Miss Bohun. At first Felix is grateful to have someone he believes will care for him, but as time passes he begins to realise that Miss Bohun is not quite all she appears (or believes herself) to be. Felix's only real comfort throughout the novel is the presence of Miss B...more
Cyndie
Jerusalem 1945 - typical English colonials living in their own little world amongst the chaos of change. The author focuses on the daily domestic doings of a young orphan - Felix, and the less then selfless distantly related woman, Miss Bohun, who takes him in as part of her 'duty'. This is a quiet piece of work that is not for those who like action, adventure, mystery, grand drama and obvious resolutions. The characters exemplify how even in times of historic change and pending disaster, ordina...more
Laura
I bought this book soon after finishing The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy, but I have been reserving it for a bit the more to enjoy it.
It has been satisfying that, although the scene is familiar, this is a completely different story and set of characters. The protagonist, Felix is a young orphan stranded in the area as the Second World War comes to an end and a new war announces itself in Jerusalem. He has been sent to live with the adopted sister of his father, Miss Bohun, a distant rel...more
Heather Roberts
Loved her BBC post war works when I found them this summer. Then I found this on a King's English tour a little after. Tucked it away for the future.

I've always been entranced by Jerusalem, Egypt their politics, culture and spirit deeply influenced by personal psychology and government. Especially fictional, nonfictional takes on passionate couples traveling for world work.

Swoon for it. Such a sucker. Love it!

{Think recent years Painted Veil, more recently Deborah Devonshire, Paddy Fermor amo...more
Ben Batchelder
Despite its setting in Jerusalem in 1945, School for Love has a cramped, claustrophobic feel. True, Felix our protagonist is a recently orphaned Brit in his mid-teens who is stuck half a year in Jerusalem waiting for a ship home, but he feels younger and more listless than you’d expect given the circumstances. He takes up residence in the boarding house of Miss Bohun who, despite being a sort-of relative (the foster child of his grandparents), overcharges and underfeeds him.

The book is a coming-...more
Glyn Pope
After having read The Balkan Trilogy, and two books into The Levant Trilogy (it's so good that like a fine wine I'm saving it) I thought I'd take another Olivia Manning off our shelves. I was not disappointed. Superb. I shall be looking out for more. I don't like giving anything of the plot away. Suffice to say, she writes so well about time, place and character.
Charris Bradshaw
I enjoyed this book. It is mostly about a boy who after having been orphaned goes to live with a quirky old woman who has an unusual way of helping others.
Victoria
This novel was excellent. Olivia Manning was a great writer who makes the mundane events in a young boy's isolated life enjoyable to read. She also induced very strong feelings about the characters from me. I HATED Miss Bohun and cringed as if I were in the room with Felix every time that she appeared. Mrs. Ellis was not as fascinating as the back cover of the New York Review Book edition claims she is, but I could not help rooting for her every time she had to go against Miss Bohun.
Stephanie
Felix, a teen orphan goes to live with Miss. Bohum, a self-delusional miser who thinks she's here on earth to save people from themselves, when in reality, she's just mean. You feel for the orphan, who is so lonely and naive that he often sides with Miss. Bohum (after all, she's just trying to help people out by giving them a roof over their heads, but at the same time overcharging them). Then a free-spirited young lady comes to lodge with them and thankfully opens up Felix's world a bit.
Virginia
I debated on what to rate this book. It has Ms. Manning's usual cast of unlikeable people, but it also takes place against her usual fascinating background, in this case Jerusalem at the end of the Second World War. I wish that the book had had more of the latter and less of the former, but it was still worth reading. Hey, I felt the same way about The Balkan Trilogy, but I plowed my way through that and followed it up with this book.
Richard
An overlong and generally overpraised short story. (Plot: the boy Felix, marooned in Jerusalem during WWII, falls passionately under the spell of one woman, and then realizes that she is awful, and then realizes that perhaps she is to be pitied.) And yet it's beautifully observed and the atmosphere is oddly addictive.
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NYRB Classics: School for Love, by Olivia Manning 1 2 Oct 30, 2013 12:30PM  
  • The Vet's Daughter
  • A Way of Life, Like Any Other
  • The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • A House and Its Head
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot
  • Indian Summer
  • Love's Work: A Reckoning with Life
  • An Ermine in Czernopol
  • The Fox in the Attic (The Human Predicament, #1)
  • In the Freud Archives
  • Soul of Wood
  • The Slaves of Solitude
  • Memoirs of Hecate County
  • The Unpossessed
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • The Mountain Lion
  • Sleepless Nights
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Olivia Manning CBE was a British novelist, poet, writer and reviewer. Her fiction and non-fiction, frequently detailing journeys and personal odysseys, were principally set in England, Ireland, Europe and the Middle East. She often wrote from her personal experience, though her books also demonstrate strengths in imaginative writing. Her books are widely admired for her artistic eye and vivid desc...more
More about Olivia Manning...
The Balkan Trilogy The Levant Trilogy The Great Fortune The Spoilt City Friends and Heroes

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