The Avignon Quintet
This is the one-volume edition of five novels in a kaleidoscopic sequence first published between 1974 and 1985. The Avignon Quintet is an achievement comparable to Durrell's masterpiece The Alexandria Quartet, with which it has subtle affiliations. Avignon and the ancient kingdom of Provence take the place of Alexandria and the eastern Mediterranean, although significant episodes in the five books are set in the Egyptian desert, Venice, Paris, Vienna and Geneva. In one of the books, Constance, there is a memorable picture of life in southern France under the Nazi occupation. Durrell's prime themes of 'fiction' and 'reality' are shuffled and intercut with those of human identity and sexuality, Freud, the cult of the Gnostics, the heresy of the Templars and their missing treasure, and other bizarre and extraordinary matters - all rendered with great ingenuity and ribald humour by a supreme descriptive writer and novelist.