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School For Love

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  299 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Jerusalem in 1945 is a city in flux: refugees from the war in Europe fill its streets and cafés, the British colonial mandate is coming to an end, and tensions are on the rise between the Arab and Jewish populations. Felix Latimer, a recently orphaned teenager, arrives in Jerusalem from Baghdad, biding time until he can secure passage to England. Adrift and deeply lonely, ...more
Published (first published 1951)
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Feb 09, 2017 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jerusalem. The end of the War. And it's snowing.

The recently orphaned comes. The recently widowed. New settlers, too. Still, it's a time when Jews, Arabs and Poles can sit together in a Cafe. But, as I said, there's something in the air.

Felix Latimer is coming of age. Mrs. Ellis is having a baby. And Miss Bohun is being paid by American evangelicals to save a room in her house for the Judgement Day.

That doesn't tell you anything, really. But then, this book is story but not plot. Character(s), i

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.
Tamar Senyak
Jan 27, 2010 Tamar Senyak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 28, 2009 Tanja rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Apr 14, 2017 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
School for Love is a beautifully written coming of age novel, set in Jerusalem towards the end of World War Two. Felix Latimer is a boy (we’re never told exactly how old; I assumed fifteen or sixteen, although there were moments he seemed younger) who has recently lost his mother. Told in the third person, we see everything through Felix’s eyes. While hostilities continue, he is unable to return to England – where he’s not lived for several years anyway. Felix had been living in Baghdad with his ...more
Jan 01, 2010 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2011 Lucinda Elliot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Leo Passaportis
Apr 30, 2012 Leo Passaportis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 06, 2013 Dorian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 02, 2011 J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 31, 2010 Susann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: idlewild
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
Lewis Manalo
Feb 02, 2010 Lewis Manalo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 17, 2011 aya rated it it was amazing  ·  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).
"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.
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.
Feb 06, 2010 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Justin Evans
Apr 05, 2009 Justin Evans rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Nice easy read, with a killer ending; a slightly exotic setting and a great cast of characters. It's not going to blow your socks off, but there's probably no better way to spend a lazy rainy day.
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.
Robert Palmer
May 09, 2017 Robert Palmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is set in Jerusalem 1945,a young boy,Felix , has been orphaned and will be living with Miss Bohun,who may,or may not be a relative he has never met,he will be living with Miss Bohun and many other borders,such as mr.Jewel and Mrs.Elsie,a pregnant widow and of course the city of Jerusalem is in a panic what with refugees from the war are all around the city,the British mandate is ending and there will soon be a war between the Arab and Jewish population.
A very interesting story.

Another in my series of neglected classics, this tells the story of a boy's rude coming of age at the end of World War II in Jerusalem.

Felix has been orphaned by the death of his British mother of typhoid in Baghdad, and after neighbors care for him a while, he is shipped off to live with his father's adopted sister, Miss Bohun, in Jerusalem.

Felix is naive and desperate for love and acceptance, and much of School for Love explores his shifting allegiances as he tries to support one person or an
Ben Batchelder
Oct 22, 2013 Ben Batchelder rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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-
Martin Boyle
Dec 18, 2014 Martin Boyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
(Note: I actually read the Penguin 1983 published edition)
Olivia Manning has this ability to evoke characters without particularly describing the character. You know them by their actions. In this case, a young orphan unwanted and homeless finds himself stranded in a cold winter Jerusalem. And in a cold household.

The school for love is hardly that: a child starved of affection and love, tries to develop relationships - admiration, gratitude, sympathy... - with the other flotsam in and around a l
Dec 10, 2010 Cyndie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb
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
Jul 21, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2015 Ian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Felix Lattimer is left orphaned in Baghdad when his mother dies of typhoid, and since it’s during WWII he can’t be sent back to Britain and the care of relatives. There is, however, a relative much closer – in Jerusalem. Mrs Bohun. So Felix is sent there. Mrs Bohun really is a piece of work – the blurb describes her as “one of the most reoubtable (and ridiculous) of comic horrors in English fiction”, and it’s true. The actual plot – Felix interacts with the other residents of Mrs Bohun’s house, ...more
Feb 07, 2017 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect short novel. In Jerusalem in 1945, young Felix is sent to live with a far-removed relative- Miss Bohun, as both his parents have died. He is waiting to be sent back to his home in England. Miss Bohun runs a boarding house of sorts, and also teaches her "ever-readies", a group of evangelicals. She is almost cruel in her miserliness, and has definite judgemental opinions about everything. Felix becomes friendly with the new boarder, Mrs. Ellis, who is pregnant with her dead husband's chi ...more
Mar 11, 2014 Alarie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
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
The theme of this book is lack of love and desperate loneliness.

Felix, the protagonist, is a sweet-natured, sensitive boy who had been coddled and protected by his adoring mother. She had brought him up in a benign story-book world to preserve his innocence and freshness for as long as possible. At her death Felix is catapulted into a cruel, hostile world totally unprepared.

He ends up in Jerusalem in a distant relative's home surrounded by desperate, lonely people who have no place to go and are
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NYRB Classics: School for Love, by Olivia Manning 2 29 Oct 28, 2016 10:40PM  
  • The Vet's Daughter
  • Manservant and Maidservant
  • Great Granny Webster
  • A Way of Life, Like Any Other
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • The New York Stories
  • Love's Work: A Reckoning with Life
  • Letty Fox: Her Luck
  • The Slaves of Solitude
  • Indian Summer
  • The Fox in the Attic (The Human Predicament, #1)
  • The Mountain Lion
  • Niki: The Story of a Dog
  • Memoirs of Hecate County
  • The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories
  • Seven Men
  • Afloat
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
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