My Friday Post: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

My book today is Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell, one of the books I’m currently reading.

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

It begins:

Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will – whatever we may think. They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures – and the best of them lead us not only outwards in space, but inwards as well. Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection …

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56: Durrell is buying a house in the Greek village of Bellapaix and the owners have gathered their family in the village cafe to agree upon the price.

They sat on a semicircle of chairs, sipping coffee and arguing in low voices; a number of beards waggled, a number of heads nodded. They looked like a rugger scrum in an American film receiving last-minute instructions from their captain. Soon they would fall upon us like a ton of bricks and gouge us. I began to feel rather alarmed.


I’ve visited Cyprus several times, but not the area Durrell wrote about in this book – Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus. His description of it and Bellapaix makes me wish I could have seen it then in the 1950s.


Bitter Lemons of Cyprus is Lawrence Durrell’s unique account of his time in Cyprus, during the 1950s Enosis movement for freedom of the island from British colonial rule. Winner of the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, it is a document at once personal, poetic and subtly political – a masterly combination of travelogue, memoir and treatise.

‘He writes as an artist, as well as a poet; he remembers colour and landscape and the nuances of peasant conversation . . . Eschewing politics, it says more about them than all our leading articles . . . In describing a political tragedy it often has great poetic beauty.’ Kingsley Martin, New Statesman

‘Durrell possesses exceptional qualifications. He speaks Greek fluently; he has a wide knowledge of modern Greek history, politics and literature; he has lived in continental Greece and has spent many years in other Greek islands . . . His account of this calamity is revelatory, moving and restrained. It is written in the sensitive and muscular prose of which he is so consummate a master.’ Harold Nicolson, Observer


What about you? Does it tempt you or would you stop reading? 

14 thoughts on “My Friday Post: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell

  1. This sounds like an evocative description of the place, Margaret! I like the setting very much. I’ll be interested to see what you think when you’ve finished.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would continue! Have not read a Durrell book yet. Loved the Tv series The Durrell’s. I had never heard of Gerald or Lawerence until then. From the series it’s hard to take Lawrence seriously! But your post makes me want to read something he wrote. I think I would be pleasantly surprised!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peggy’s that’s interesting – I didn’t watch the TV series, but from what you say Lawrence doesn’t come across as a serious person, but in this book I don’t get that impression. I read My Family and Other Animals many years ago (when I was at school) so I don’t remember much about it!


  3. I would keep going. I’ve had Bitter Lemons hanging about the house for years but haven’t got around to it yet.


    1. Do read it! I’ve read nearly half the book up to now and have just started to read about Enosis – the case of the Greek-Cypriots for union of Cyprus into Greece – something I know very little about!


Comments are closed.