Friday, 14 November 2008

Olivia Manning

It's always good to discover a pristine Virago in a second-hand book store. I'm unfamiliar with the work of Olivia Manning although I know she wrote The Balkan Trilogy which became the BBC series The Fortunes of War.

The Wind Changes is set in the troubled Dublin of 1921. Elizabeth, a young artist has a sexual relationship with a cold-hearted English writer, Arion and then begins a relationship with the equally indifferent political activist, Sean. This girl doesn't learn! This is a thoughtful and reflective book and Manning's writing is beautifully descriptive of nature and the sea:
All the houses there faced the sea. It would have been funny to have lived in one that did not. It would have been like sitting with your back to the driver in a bus. In the winter the spray was flung over the roofs and flooded the back gardens. Her cousins used to roll their trousers up to their knees and bale the yard with buckets. The salt killed nearly all the plants. Only the aconite lived through the winter and in the spring its leaves would glitter with salt as thick as hoar frost.

9 comments:

kristina said...

I'd never heard of Olivia Manning before. Such a wonderful excerpt. I'll definitely add her to my growing list... K x

Cath said...

I agree, a good copy of a Virago is always a great find. This one sounds interesting and I love that quote. They couldn't half write back then.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

What an evocative description. And I could be completely sold on the book with that beautiful cover. I've never heard of Manning so I'll have to add her name to the endless list of "going to read one of these days."

_lethe_ said...

I had to look twice, because my copy of Mrs Dalloway has that same painting on the cover.

Nice photograph with the matching flowers' hearts!

I only know Olivia Manning by name, have you read more by her?

Unfortunately I seldom come across second-hand Viragos here, let alone pristine ones!

_lethe_ said...

Sorry, I read too fast. I see that you are unfamiliar with her work.

Vintage Reading said...

Yes, I will certainly look out for more Olivia Manning. She can certainly write. Lethe, I do think the woman on the cover looks a little like Virginia Woolf. Odd that the picture has been used on other books. Nicola

_lethe_ said...

She does look like Woolf!

The cover thing happens more often than you think (see f.e. http://kimbofo.typepad.com/readingmatters/2008/10/spot-the-difference-ii.html).

I can't find "my" Mrs Dalloway online, Oxford's latest edition has another editor and a painting of a much older woman (http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayProductDetails.do?sku=3635036). I like mine better.

Sara said...

Hello....I found your blog in an odd way via my Sitemeter counter and find it is all about books! One of my favorite things to write about. I also notice you added my blog Much Ado About Something to your sidebar. I'm flattered.

I love your book photos that you include with each post. Book covers are wonderful things. And you photograph them very artistically too.

I see some authors here that I am not familiar with and perhaps need to explore. Thanks for your recommendations.

Sara

Vintage Reading said...

Sara, thank you for your kind words. I found your blog after a Google search for Elizabeth Goudge and I now visit regularly. I'll pass on your comments about the photos to Kate, my 12-year old. She takes all my photos for me - I just pass her the book! Nicola