School for Love

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New York Review of Books, Jan 29, 2013 - Fiction - 232 pages
4 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, Felix has no choice but to room in a boardinghouse run by Miss Bohun, a relative he has never met. Miss Bohun is a holy terror, a cheerless miser who proclaims the ideals of a fundamentalist group known as the Ever-Readies—joy, charity, and love—even as she makes life a misery for her boarders. Then Mrs. Ellis, a fascinating young widow, moves into the house and disrupts its dreary routine for good.

Olivia Manning’s great subject is the lives of ordinary people caught up in history. Here, as in her panoramic depiction of World War II, The Balkan Trilogy, she offers a rich and psychologically nuanced story of life on the precipice, and she tells it with equal parts compassion, skepticism, and humor.
 

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User Review  - stillatim - LibraryThing

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. Read full review

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User Review  - DieFledermaus - LibraryThing

Despite the fact that a not inaccurate summary of this book would be “Various people move in and out of a boarding house run by a hypocritical, tightfisted old woman and come into conflict”, I found ... Read full review

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Contents

II
8
III
25
IV
38
V
60
VI
82
VII
91
VIII
104
IX
120
X
153
XI
162
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About the author (2013)

Olivia Manning (1908-1980) was born in Portsmouth, England, and spent much of her childhood in Northern Ireland. Her father, Oliver, was a penniless British sailor who rose to become a naval commander, and her mother, Olivia, had a prosperous Anglo-Irish background. Manning trained as a painter at the Portsmouth School of Art, then moved to London and turned to writing. She published her first novel under her own name in 1938 (she had published several potboilers in a local paper under the name Jacob Morrow while a teenager). The next year she married R.D.“Reggie” Smith, and the couple moved to Romania, where Smith was employed by the British Council. During World War II , the couple fled before the Nazi advance, first to Greece and then to Jerusalem, where they lived until the end of the war. Manning wrote several novels during the 1950s, but her first real success as a novelist was The Great Fortune (1960), 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 Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1976, and died four years later.

Jane Smiley, winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, is the author of many novels and other works. In 2010 she published Private Life, a novel; A Good Horse, a book for young adults; and The Man Who Invented the Computer, the first volume of the Sloane American Inventors series.

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