This third novel of Lawrence Durrell’s Avignon quincunx contains the very best of his splendidly lucid prose, and more. Set during the period of the Second World War, the author demonstrates an ability to sustain lengthy periods of activity with all his adverbial and adjectival prowess, carrying us along apace with him. The narrative flows enough throughout the central sequences for us to forget that this is metafiction. His themes include an understanding of motives and conflicts about wartime activities; of the herd instincts and imposed fear that cause people to follow without question; of the position of women in society which can take many years to shift, despite hard fought changes in legislation; of a deep understanding of the nature of sexuality in love, in lust, and in the psyche.

The underlying sexual thread running through the work reaches a crescendo midway, as does the aftermath of war in an occupied city in the closing chapters, perhaps the most powerful in a powerful book.

David Gentleman has once more provided the book jacket.


    1. Thanks very much, Cynthia. I, too, get to forget what I may have read earlier.

  1. I enjoyed your review, Derrick. They have sparked a real interest in reading his work. Durrell’s brother Gerald was also a writer, and he is on my list as well.

    1. Have you seen the Gerald Vet stories in the TV series, Lavinia? Thanks very much

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  3. There’s no doubt that I’ll read this quintet. My library doesn’t have any Durrell, apart from electronic versions of two of the Alexandria Quartet volumes, but I’m going to see if I can’t get them Avignon through interlibrary loan. If not? There are offerings on Thriftbooks, which would do in a pinch. At this stage of life, even a poorer quality paperback does quite well, especially when it can be had for US$2. After all, I’m not twenty years old and wanting a copy that will last half a century!

    1. Understood, Linda. Unfortunately I haven’t got the fifth book in the series. I may need to break my no more books rule. Thanks very much

  4. Your review indicates that Durrell explored issues that are still relevant today. The times they were a’changing, and some people were very uncomfortable with that. And they still are.

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