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Publisher's Summary

"Mountolive who had already found the open sesame of language ready to hand, suddenly began to feel himself really penetrating a foreign country...." 

In Mountolive, the third volume in Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, the events surrounding the interwoven community of Nessim, Justine, Narouz, Pursewarden and the other major characters are given a very different perspective. The intrigues and complex relationships are seen through the political prism of a world plunging toward war. David Mountolive, once emotionally involved with Nessim’s set, now returns to Egypt as the British ambassador....

©1958 Lawrence Durrell (P)2022 Naxos AudioBooks UK Ltd.

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Of Diplomats and Scapegoats

In this third novel of the #alexandriaquartet , #mountolive follows the rise of English diplomat, David Mountolive, and Indian born Englishman who started his diplomatic career in #egypt , tutored in an intensive immersion of the #arabic language as the guest of the #hosnani estate, an ancient #coptic family with mixed interests in agriculture and banking in the #nileriverdelta city of #alexandria . Enraptured by the beautiful #leila , the young wife of his ancient host and the mother of #nessim and #narouz , teenage boys who grow into the powerful scions of the Hosnani family, Mountolive lives the diplomatic life, bouncing all over the globe throughout his career until obtaining his ambassadorship which brings him back to Egypt in the years before the outbreak of #worldwarii. Having obtained its independence, Egypt is still under the sway of the #unitedkingdom which has formed a political alliance with #arabmuslims to the chagrin of the ancient #christian and #jewish families which have long been part of the Egyptian power structure.

Mountolive presents a different perspective of the events which took place in #justine and #balthazar , the first two novels in the quartet. The book takes you into some of the darker elements of Egyptian life and culture which can be quite disturbing but seemingly on par for the imagination of #lawrencedurrell who was a close friend and collegue of #henrymiller who gave high marks for some of the story's imagery. I wasn't initially sure how I would feel about the series, compelled to read them due to their placement of the #modernlibrarytop100novels . But I am intrigued to find out how the story resolves, having already downloaded #clea , the fourth in the quartet. Narrator #nicholasboulton gave a fantastic read in the #audible version .

#readtheworldchallenge #globalreadingchallenge #englishliterature #readtheworld

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  • Sammy J
  • 10-25-21

Strong stuff

"Mountolive" is perhaps the best of the four novels that comprise "The Alexandria Quartet": partly because it reveals so many surprises and explanations of what truly (or allegedly truly) happened during the previous two books, and partly because - ironically - it is the least stylistically experimental of the four. This in itself is deliberate, since Durrell challenges us to think about whether a third-person narrator can be truly impartial, but it also gives the novel a consistency which is its strength. Nicholas Boulton continues to impress with his clear-headed, varied, erudite narration.