Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: "Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy" by Olivia Manning

Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy, a series of three novels by late British novelist Olivia Manning is not the usual book I would pick up and read. It’s not like a Science Fiction novel, which I only pick up maybe once or twice a year, but it is far from something I have a massive interest in. But since I try to read at least one 900 page book a year, this was something I came across while searching and it fit the bill. While it is not all bad, I don’t think a normal person would find enough joy in a book like this to read all 924 pages of it at a time. Since it’s three books, I am curious as to how reading them one at a time would offer a better experience. But as a whole, it reminded me of better and even only slightly better books that I came across, and I don’t see myself reading the second trilogy of this story any time soon. It’s a war novel set during WWII, but there are no battle scenes and only a few deaths, focusing on the lives of Harriet and Guy Pringle, and how the war steadily encroaches on them and the lives of those around them. It reminded me a lot of Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge for how the horrors of war introduce themselves in unconventional manners as well as Vikram Seth’s mammoth A Suitable Boy, not only for its length but because the length is made up of quiet, residential moments instead of scenes of grandeur. But the characters, which there are a lot, don’t really stand out very much, expect for Prince Yakimov whose arc is funny, moving and tragic, and the pace is dreadfully slow, leading me to feel all 924 pages. A book like this takes a lot of patience, which isn’t always bad, but I don’t think there is a reward for such patience at the end of this gargantuan book.

Rating: 3/5

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