This is a lovely piece of travel writing about the Island of Rhodes by a master observer of both the human character and the land- and seascapes with which Greece and its islands always delight us. It is a richly sensuous account of Durrell's years in the British civil service just after the end of WWII and just before the island is handed back to Greece. The eye is feted with descriptions of fields, hills, oranges and lemons, and flowers of every form and color. Sounds range from the rhythm of the sea (alternately savage and soothing) to Greek folk songs to sparkling conversation with Brit expatriates (including Gideon the half-sighted wonder). The author even offers a neat summation of a Greek picnic in terms of smells: petrol, garlic, wine and goat. Intermingled with these delicious attacks on the senses there is the play of light over the island as the sun moves across the sky and its rays are filtered through sea mist, mythology and the grim reality of having to rebuild a nation and an island after Nazi cruelty has left it a shambles. Like it or not, the reader is filled in on some mildly interesting points in the author's understanding of ancient history and the medieval Knights of St. John, who came into possession of the island for a time. The last section is about an enormous cookout in honor of a saint at whose shrine miracles have been know to occur, even raising the dead. It is a stroke of irony that during the festivities a young child is run over by a truck and dies the following day despite the best efforts of Mills, a good hearted but overextended British doctor. All in all, this is a delightful book, highly recommendable for those who enjoy travel writing.
|Publisher:||Faber and Faber|