School for Love

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-02-03
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics
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Jerusalem in 1945 is a city in flux: refugees from the war in Europe fill its streets and cafes, 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-Readiesjoy, charity, and loveeven 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.

Author Biography

Olivia Manning (1908–1980) was born in Portsmouth, England. Just before World War II she married R. D. “Reggie” Smith (a British Council teacher and later a BBC radio producer) and moved to Bucharest, then to Athens, and finally to Egypt and Jerusalem. She returned to London in 1946 and lived there until her death. Manning wrote more than twelve novels, including her celebrated Fortunes of War series, The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy. In 1976 she was awarded the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Jane Smiley is the author of many novels, including Good Faith, Horse Heaven, and A Thousand Acres, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992. She has written a biography of Charles Dickens; her most recent work is Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. In 2001, Smiley was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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