A richly evocative account of Durrell's life in Corfu in the s, it was first published in and purports to be a diary in which he is a serious young writer living blissfully in the sun, deeply in love both with his new wife and with the idea of Greece. Durrell states that Prospero's Cell is a "guide to the landscape and manners" of Corfu but it never quite becomes this.
It is a lyrical personal notebook, and what he leaves out is as poignant as what he includes.
Its content is almost unrecognisable as the same ground his younger brother, the zoologist Gerald, covers in his famous Corfu book My Family and Other Animals , in which "Larry" lives with the family which he never did and is the 'diminutive blond firework' by turns pompously literary and hilarious. And by the time he wrote Prospero's Cell Lawrence and his first wife Nancy had separated. He was already sadder and wiser, and living in wartime Egypt with Eve Cohen who would become his second wife. Further researches and a reading of several biographies soon revealed a complex and contradictory character - and a further two wives.
The Savoy Sessions Dial Africa: Melissa arrives on Corfu and tries to find out more about the mysterious author who obviously knew Elizabeth intimately. There's more on it here: A tad slow going for me. Kind of Blue — NPR. In the end, after many false dawns and disappointments, I published it myself under the Stamp Publishing imprint in September
His work, over a period of nearly sixty years - most famously in The Alexandria Quartet - was concerned with duality: And running through it all, the transfiguring effect of time. Lawrence Durrell wrote beguilingly, drawing constantly on his own experience and his many subsequent moves across the shores of the Mediterranean - to Rhodes Reflections on a Marine Venus , Cyprus Bitter Lemons , the former Yugoslavia, and finally to the South of France Caesar's Vast Ghost where he settled for thirty years.
What was especially rewarding as I dug deeper was that he featured in so many other biographies and memoirs - each giving further insights - thanks to his enduring friendships with writers such as Henry Miller, Anais Nin, T S Eliot who was his editor and mentor at Faber and Faber , Patrick Leigh Fermor, Freya Stark, Rose Macauley, Richard Aldington and Elizabeth David.
Interwoven throughout were his many loves and four marriages. He seemed to pack so many different lives into one! And while he was a comet blazing, what of the women he collided with along the way, I wondered? How did their stories end? And what of those he met, whose lives he changed but who did not rate even a footnote in the biographies? Julian Adie is a fictional creation, yet I have been faithful to the settings of Lawrence Durrell's life abroad and his quest for "the spirit of place".
Songs of Blue and Gold has 72 ratings and 18 reviews. Beth said: I'd fallen asleep for an hour, late afternoon, to the weary hum of ageing insects and w. Buy Songs of Blue and Gold by Deborah Lawrenson (ISBN: ) from Amazon's Book Store. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible.
The White House in Kalami, Corfu is, and was, as described. It is still owned by the Athinaios family, who were Durrell's landlords in the s. Durrell aficionados might be disconcerted by the way I've played fast and loose with his chronology, compressing and altering his travels and his wives' biographies to give an impression of the author's life without providing in any way an accurate portrayal.
In this, the book has more in common with his fictional characters, his use of dualism and reinterpretation, than with real people. So, on one level, Julian Adie is another fictionalised version of Lawrence Durrell: It is also crucial to say that Lawrence Durrell was never implicated in a suspicious drowning.
This part of the story was prompted by the accidents at sea that were a recurrent theme of his novels, not real life. For the last thirty years of his life, Durrell made his home in the Languedoc, south-west France, where the herb-scented raggedness reminded him of Greece. There it was harder, initially, to find his traces.
Time does seem to have reset the co-ordinates. The centre of the small market town of Sommieres remains much as he described it, but across the Roman bridge over the Vidourle, his old house is swamped by the present in the form of a Champion hypermarket and its parking spaces. Melissa, struggling to come to terms both with Elizabeth's recent death and with her own husband's affair, is intrigued by the discovery of her mother's secret relationship with Adie.
This is the story about two women: Melissa, an unhappily married archivist, and her mother Elizabeth, who on her death bed presents her daughter with a startling and mysterious key to her past: On the title page an inscription by the author reads: So begins Melissa's journey from England to Corfu to the South of France in search of her mother's past relationship with Adie as well as an internal exploration of her own unhappy personal life.
Structurally complex, the novel moves from Melissa's investigations to passages of Elizabeth's time spent on Corfu with Julian Adie to fictional biography book excerpts detailing Adie's many lives and loves.
A timeless character who seduces all those around him both in life and after death, Adie acts as a bridge between Elizabeth's past and Melissa's present. His biography makes Melissa question the biographies of others, including her mother Elizabeth's, and the revelation that past events shape as well as influence the lives of those in the present tense.
Lawrenson's description of Corfu, and particuraly of Kalami - both past and present - is thoughtful, delicate and beautiful. Her words paint the island at its best. Take this passage, which I can easily read over and over again: Equally impressive, Lawrenson delves deep into the tricky and highly subjective world of time and memory, and the gaps which break as well as the bridges that bind the two together.
In this way Songs of Blue and Gold can be classified as a work of literary fiction. Then again, the portryal of Melissa's investigations into her mother's past while searching for answers in her own personal life often reads as a cat-and-mouse game, a mystery which needs solving in the most literal sense through clues found in conventional scenes and conversations. A commerically viable technique, perhaps, however I couldn't help but feel let down by the scores of standard plot-moving dialogs. On whole, however, I appreciated the major issues and themes this book explores.