As Rommel’s forces advance in war-torn Egypt in 1941, 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.
This civilian world meets the military through Simon Boulderstone, a young army officer who will witness the tragedy and tension of war on the frontier at first hand. Olivia Manning brilliantly evokes the world of the Levant – Egypt, Jerusalem and Syria – with humour and humanity.
Reviewed by Patrick Welland in Slightly Foxed Issue 64.
These are catastrophic times. Tobruk has fallen, the British are in retreat, abandoning weaponry and tanks, and it is rumoured Cairo is to be evacuated. Determined to evoke not just the fears of civilians on the periphery of fighting but also the horror of combat itself, Manning introduces in the opening book, The Danger Tree, a gauche young officer, Simon Boulderstone, through whose eyes we witness the ultimately successful El Alamein campaign . . .
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 64, Winter 2019
In the summer of 1974, the author Olivia Manning reread the transcript of a BBC radio talk she had given eleven years earlier about her arrival in Cairo in 1941 with her husband, Reggie Smith....Read more