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The Levant Trilogy (Fortunes of War #4-6)

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  566 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
As Rommel advances in wartorn Egypt, the lives of the civilian population come under threat. One such couple are Guy and Harriet Pringle, who have escaped the war in Europe only to find the conflict once more on their doorstep, providing a volatile backdrop to their own personal battles. The civilian world meets the military through the figure of Simon Boulderstone, a youn ...more
Published (first published 1980)
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As with the earlier The Balkan Trilogy: "Great Fortune", "Spoilt City" and "Friends and Heroes", Harriet and Guy Pringle’s experiences echo those of the author, Olivia Manning and her husband, Reggie Smith. At the end of The Balkan Trilogy Harriet and Guy board the Erebus and leave Athens Harbour as the Germans arrive on that city’s doorstep. This was their last view of the city they had come to love:
“The hills of the Peloponnesus, glowing in the sunset light, changed to rose-violet and darkene
Apr 25, 2017 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second trilogy in an hexalogy about (mostly) Brits in the Second World War being expatriates. We've picked up a soldier in this one and he takes us to the war in chapters that alternate with the continuing story of Guy and Harriet Pringle and their revolving cast of characters. The setting is Cairo, mostly, but there are sidetrips to Damascus and Jerusalem, because all sunshine makes a desert, they say, and they'll have tea in Syria, won't they?

I wondered, and still do wonder, how mu
Jun 09, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The three books which make up The Levant Trilogy are “The Danger Tree,” “The Battle Lost and Won,” and “The Sum of Things.” These novels follow on from Oliva Manning’s, “The Balkan Trilogy,” in which we first met young married couple, Guy and Harriet Pringle. .” In the Balkan novels, we followed newlyweds, Guy and Harriet Pringle, as they embarked on married life in Budapest – later moving to Greece. “The Danger Tree” sees many of these characters reappear, such as Pinkrose, Dubebat, Lush and Do ...more
Three and a half stars. The Levant Trilogy is a wonderful coda to The Balkan Trilogy and a delicate, beautifully rendered portrait of a struggling marriage and the final chaos of war. Psychologically the Levant Trilogy may in fact go deeper than the Balkan Trilogy. It kind of depends on your favorite style but for me it was a bit of a let down after the The Balkan Trilogy, which I loved and devoured with unseemly haste. Harriet and Guy Pringle did not wear particularly well in this second trilog ...more
Diane Barnes
Nov 23, 2016 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In an imperfect world, marriage was a matter of making do with what one had chosen."

In this second trilogy of Guy and Harriet Pringle, we learn more of their marriage, their travels from Budapest to Greece to Egypt during WWII, their friends, and the Battle of El Alamein (both of them).

Guy continues to be self-centered and blind to the needs of his wife, but always on call for his friends. In "The Balkan Trilogy", they were newlyweds and Harriett was learning that romance didn't last when real
Rick Slane
British diplomatic life in Egypt as well as a description of how Rommel is driven back

Better than the Balkan Trilogy, Manning writes with searing honesty about Guy and Harriet Pringle -- the thinly fictionalized version of her own marriage. Unlike the first three books that comprise the Balkan Trilogy, the focus here is almost entirely on Harriet. Especially in the middle book (the fifth of the six total books in the Fortunes of War), she is relentlessly self-examining. And, in the course of the fifth and sixth book, she learns something about herself.

"Perhaps she had expected to
Apr 03, 2015 Callie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh how I love reading about Harriet and Guy Pringle! I can't get enough of them and their adventures in various exotic places during World War II. If this book were written by a man and had a male protagonist, you can bet your bottom dollar it would be far more prestigious and known than it is currently. But I will spare you the feminist rant.

If you haven't read this book yet, you may want to move on now because I will probably spoil the ending for you.

Guy continues to be Guy in this trilogy,
A must-read after The Balkan Trilogy, this sees Harriet becoming her own woman - eventually. Manning's experiences in Egypt and the Levant give the books an air of authenticity. The third book is largely an indulgence which gives her the opportunity to describe wartime Damascus, Beirut and Jerusalem but the descriptions are beautifully written and read just as well as a travelogue as fiction. I'm still not sure if Manning is a great author but I have thoroughly enjoyed taking this wartime journe ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
A good follow-up to the Balkan Trilogy, with some very beautifully-written passages. There were some repetitive references to characters and events, as if Manning had forgotten that she had already mentioned these things. Guy Pringle, Harriet's husband, becomes quite infuriating by the 6th book (as I think he is meant to), as are most of the other male characters, and quite a few of the female characters. But I liked Harriet, the main character, quite a bit (especially when she strikes off to ha ...more
Sep 29, 2013 Dpdwyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
These three novels pick up, in Cairo, the story of The Balkan Trilogy. It is the story of a deep but flawed marriage set against the backdrop of World War II, always interupting and disrupting their lives in unforeseen ways. Given the length of the entire project, I would occasionally put it down and read something else. The characters are so well developed that I found I could easily pick it up after many weeks and get right back into the story. Manning is a master of evocative descriptions of ...more
Naomi Styles
Mar 18, 2010 Naomi Styles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent book after the Balkan Trilogy - this one has more plot to it, and because it portrays the war front as well as city life for the non-combatants, I think it's richer and more informative. The descriptions of sounds, smell, temperature and light are so rich that you can imagine yourself there. The characters are annoying, and all the better for it, as they are believable and incite the reader to form a personal opinion of each one. There are many different themes to the book thou ...more
Oct 05, 2007 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone planning a trip to the Middle East
I'm sure I won't have to twist any arms to get fans of The Balkan Trilogy to pick up this sequel to the saga of Guy and Harriet Pringle. I read this while travelling through Egypt, and was constantly amused by how well Manning captured Egyptian society as seen through the eyes of a Western woman.

This installation of the story takes the Pringles' marriage through interesting twists and turns. Although Guy Pringle has got to be one of the most annoying men ever depicted in fiction -- he has a penc
Nov 28, 2007 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite my new enthusiasm for not-reading, these are the kind of books that are no trouble to get all the way through. Manning (1908-1980) comes highly recommended by Anthony Burgess and she shares his way with a nice juicy plot set in the tropics with lots of entertaining characters, some more cartoonish than others (c.f. The Long Day Wanes) but minus Burgess's taste for Joycean linguistic tomfoolery. The books also re-reminded me to re-read Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, though whether there's ...more
Mar 08, 2015 Simone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of a struggling but happy marriage; the mercilessness and horror of war, both for civilians and soldiers; and a beautiful travelogue through Egypt, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon from a bygone era. Gorgeous.
Jul 11, 2014 Nicole~ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Tonstant Weader
Mar 10, 2017 Tonstant Weader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having already read The Balkan Trilogy, I was eager to read The Levant Trilogy, the last three books of Olivia Mannings’ massive World War II opus, Fortunes of War. It did not disappoint me. Like the first, this second trilogy is as much about the Harriet and Guy Pringle’s marriage as it is about the War. In fact, the war is more distant in these three books, even when Rommel’s army is just fifty miles away.

The first two books in the trilogy, The Danger Tree and The Battle Lost and Won, take pla
Dec 04, 2016 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second series of three novels (following "The Balkan Trilogy") about World War II in the Balkans and Middle East:

-- "The Danger Tree" -- Introduces the Cairo cast of characters; Simon especially important; he sees action in 1942

-- "The Battle Lost & Won" -- Angela joins the group; Simon involved in big battle; Simon wounded; Harriet sick, heads to the ship for England but doesn't go.

-- "The Sum of Things" -- Harriet meets Bill and Angela in Syria; Simon recovers; Guy and Harriet reunited.

Apr 08, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, this one really is my edition, as I bought the book very recently. I love the colours, but I am not so sure Harriet Pringle would be wearing such a frumpy dress for her sight-seeing tours!
In these novels the Pringles find themselves in Cairo, as the battle for the desert is going on and the Allies try to push the Germans back to Libya. In order to be able to tell us about the military operations, Olivia Manning here concocts Simon, a very young officer who strikes up an acquaintance with H
Mar 28, 2015 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars. The three books comprising this trilogy (which followed the equally excellent Balkan Trilogy, with the same major characters) are The Danger Tree, The Battle Lost and Won, and The Sum of Things. Although published sequentially, with a nod to the idea that they could be read separately, the books are short and best read as a unit. This edition provides a convenient way to do that.
In The Balkan Trilogy, Harriet and Guy Pringle, a young English couple living in Bucharest, w
May 16, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I last read this book about 20 years ago, it was nice to find that i still enjoyed this book as much as ever, and still found Guy Pringle an annoying man and still cant understand why Harriet didnt leave him !! This is the story of a young couple working in Europe who get caught up in the 2nd world war and end up in Egypt. The author captures the panic and the pace of life completely, with rumours flying and no one really knowing what was going on,knowing several of the places in Egypt that were ...more
Moins aimé que la première trilogie -- peut-être parce que j'étais pas en voyage, & donc pas parfaitement disposée à lire la patente d'une seule traite. Mais peut-être aussi parce que c'était foncièrement un peu moins bon?

Il y a un côté téléroman dans ces trois derniers livres qui est parfois tellement fort que c'en devient ridicule. Les tragédies un peu plaquées, surtout (les morts subites, les paquebots de civils torpillés), & Harriett qui revient d'outre-tombe au beau milieu d'un mari
Nov 10, 2013 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although her writing of time and place is engaging - no better than than.. really good word-pictures there is only so many times one can go over and over and OVER this route. Others write that this is a 'great' book on the path of the war in the Levant but noooo, I do disagree; British view first, British characature second; British angst and noblis...third it would seem. Maybe that is what is needed to actually keep the DRAMA out of it, for drama is NOT what these people are about.

Oh, I'll just
Mar 10, 2014 Yeemay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always find Manning takes a while to acclimatise to, but I adored The Balkan Trilogy and loved this even more after I got over the first chapters. The sensuous mix of vibrant colours, alien sounds and tongues, the sharply observed cultures and characters bake in the heat of an unforgiving sun. I liked the way she entwined Harriet and Guy's story with that of a young soldier who grows up as he faces up to life in the war, in much the same way as Harriet grows up and realises her own strengths a ...more
Caitlin Brady
Jul 20, 2014 Caitlin Brady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this - maybe more than the first one. In this, you know Guy and Harriet really well, and it's just a question of watching them make their way. Harriet becomes more sympathetic, and Guy drives you up the wall; but there's this very different sense of marriage, like you have to make the most of it. Also, I found that Harriet's responses were increasingly expat; in Greece, she met Yakimov and realized that though she had disliked him, now he was simply and old friend, with whom she ...more
Oct 19, 2010 Bowerbird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The three books which make up the trilogy are not equally good, but they hold the attention. The pictures of Egypt Olivia Manning draws still have relevance today, though of course Cairo is more developed.
I did feel that the middle book lacked something, but the author's descriptions of war felt very real. The confusion, waste of lives and days of sheer boredom. Many would be conscripts, and not really suited to army life. I found the picture which was built up of a soldier's life during desert
John campling
Jan 25, 2008 John campling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: found it in a charity shop
This is a brilliant evocation of Egyptian city life during the 2nd W.W.
The descriptions of Cairo and Alexandria are instantly recognizable today. It also reminded me of Penelopy Liveley's autobiography, 'Oleander, Jacaranda'.
I am still in the middle of the book and have to tear my self away from it.
It must be made clear though that it is a trilogy coupled with an earlier trilogy ' The Balkan Trilogy'...I have probably read them the wrong way round ! But it doesn't detract from the enjoyment.
Paul Jellinek
Dec 16, 2016 Paul Jellinek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sequel to Manning's brilliant Balkan Trilogy, this Levant trilogy follows a young British couple from the Balkans to Egypt during some of the darkest moments of World War II. The trials and tribulations of their marriage play out against the backdrop of the fierce military struggle for control of North Africa. By focusing in on the lives of this couple and their circle of friends, Manning--not unlike Tolstoy in War and Peace--reveals how the epic events of that time were experienced by ordin ...more
Jun 04, 2013 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the third time, finished this remarkable work. The first read was finished 5.2.88, following its BBC debut, "The Fortunes of War." The second read was finished 8.1.92. I'm thinking, before the end of it all for me, I might just go through it again, a fourth time, this time to carefully pull out quotes. Manning is, in this work, the only one I've read, eminently quotable. Her observations of people and life are uncannily penetrating. She must have been a careful watcher of things. I look forw ...more
Lyn Harding
May 26, 2016 Lyn Harding rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult to put into words how well written these 3 books of the Levant Trilogy are. Olivia Manning describes the backdrop of Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine etc fabulously well. The characters are a slice of the British Empire yet cover some issues which remain current even today, such as dear Harriet Pringle desperately independent and wanting to be her own person.

Unputdownable. I shall miss these characters.
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NYRB Classics: Fortunes of War: The Levant Trilogy, by Olivia Manning 4 27 Jun 10, 2014 02:10PM  
  • The Raj Quartet
  • 1941: The Year That Keeps Returning
  • London War Notes, 1939-1945
  • London 1945: Life in the Debris of War
  • The Truth of the Matter
  • The Shooting Party
  • London Belongs to Me
  • To War with Whitaker: The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-1945
  • The Gallery
  • Officers and Gentlemen
  • A Few Green Leaves
  • The Burning of the World: A Memoir of 1914
  • How We Lived Then: A History of Everyday Life During the Second World War
  • The Skin
  • The Long Week-End: A Social History of Great Britain, 1918-39
  • The Singapore Grip
  • Love and War in the Apennines
  • Fair Stood the Wind for France
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...

Other Books in the Series

Fortunes of War (6 books)
  • The Great Fortune (Balkan Trilogy #1)
  • The Spoilt City
  • Friends and Heroes
  • The Danger Tree
  • The Battle Lost and Won
  • The Sum of Things

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