Tag Archives: Alexandria Quartet

Book Review: “Justine”

I’m a little late with this review, having spent the weekend on a little mini-vacation in Maryland. This week, we finished up our February “Month of Romance” themed reading with Lawrence Durrell’s novel Justine.

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I’m not exactly sure what to say about this novel. It was… breathtaking. Durrell’s grasp on storytelling – on his characters and on the reader – make Justine a truly beautiful story, and a pleasure to read.

Justine follows a young writer living in Alexandria, Egypt in the 1930s. Though he is poor, he catches the attention, and love, of infamous socialite, Justine. His experiences with her, her husband, and his other (former? current?) lover Melissa tell such a mesmerizing story. More than the plot line, however, it is the way the story is told that makes it so captivating.

I have never read any author quite like Durrell. His words are beyond poetic – lyric and fluid, making me feel like I was floating through this novel, rather than reading it. Durrell’s writing brings to mind the feeling of sweltering in the hazy heat of summer, really setting the scene of Alexandria. You can hear the people on the street, and feel the heat wafting in the windows, and seem to sink into the sheets of the narrator’s bed. My memory of the book is almost like that of a vacation – lazy, fuzzy around the corners, like a lucid dream where you need to remind yourself that you are reading, not reminiscing.

This is a novel that I wish I had taken more time with. Because of my goal to read a book a week, I felt like I was rushing through the story, not giving myself enough time to truly absorb all the sights, smells, sounds, and sentiments of Durrell’s Alexandria. Had I more time, I would have read only a few pages in each sitting, then given myself time to process it, to steep in the incense that is Justine. Rushing through made me unable to give this book the justice I wanted to, and left me feeling like I owed the novel more than a quick read. When the time is afforded to me, I will work my way through the rest of The Alexandria Quartet. It is hard to describe what this book is about – it’s more about experiencing the emotions and sensations that go along with with Durrell’s words.

If you’re confused by this review, and think it leaves you lacking for a description, that is probably because this book needs to be felt, rather than told. I would urge anyone with need of a vacation to simply sink into Justine, and float along on Durrell’s story. Simply put: I loved this novel, and can’t wait to escape reality with Durrell again.

Well, how about you? Did you read along? Have you read any of Durrell’s novels before? What were your thoughts (or “feelings” might be a better word)?

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Week 26 Reading: “Justine”

This year is a bit of a milestone for My Year in Book Reviews! This week we are reading our last book for February’s “Month of Romance” theme, but it also brings about our 26th book – bringing us to the halfway point to tackling our goal of 52 books in 52 weeks!!

Congrats to everyone reading along!! We’ve had some great reads so far, and I’ve really enjoyed discussing the books with you! I look forward to 26 more excellent reads (well… 27 including this week’s book)! Thank you for reading along, and for visiting my blog and inspiring me to keep up with my goal!

ANYWAY….

This week we are tackling our final “Month of Romance” book, Justine by Lawrence Durrell.

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This book came as a recommendation from my mom, who gifted be with this entire series (the Alexandria Quartet) of lovely books about three years ago! This book is the perfect example of why I needed this book challenge – they sat on my shelves, untouched, for three years, while I focused on schoolwork and fueling my Netflix addiction (don’t judge me – I’m in recovery).

Justine is the first in the Alexandria Quartet, which are historical fiction novels. Here is the write up on the back of the book:

The time is the eve of the World War II. The place is Alexandria, an Egyptian city that once housed the world’s greatest library and whose inhabitants are dedicated to knowledge. But for the obsessed characters in this mesmerizing novel, their pursuits lead only to bedrooms in which each seeks to know—and possess—the other. Since its publication in 1957, Justine has inspired an almost religious devotion among readers and critics alike.

Sounds absolutely excellent! Great libraries, historical fiction, Egypt, WWII, possessing each other in bedrooms?? Seems like Justine will make a great closure to our “Month of Romance” and lead seamlessly into our “Month of Women” theme for March!

I hope you are reading along with me!

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February Reading List

Hey there, friends! I just finished off the February reading list, and wanted to release it so you had time to request books from the library, find books at the used book store, or get your ebook copies! February’s theme is “Month of Romance” (in honor of Valentine’s Day), and I think I’ve put together a great selection of books to get us in the romantic mood!

Feb. 2 – 8 – I Love You, Ronnie – by Nancy Reagan

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We’re going to kick off this romantic month with a recommendation. My amazing friend Haley recommended this book, which includes letters written by Ronald Reagan to his wife, Nancy. The book covers the breadth of their relationship – from the acting days, to the presidency, and beyond. Haley claims Ronald Reagan is “the most romantic man ever.” It will be fascinating to see more into this historic American’s life, as well as his long relationship with his wife. I can’t wait to tackle this book, and I hope you’ll read it with me! This bit of biographical literature will be a wonderful way to get us in the romantic mood!

 

Feb. 9 – 15 – Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery

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This book is another recommendation, from my lovely friend Alyssa. I have, to my shame, never read Anne of Green Gables, although I was a very big reader as a child. This book is considered a youth fiction, but also falls under the category of romance – and I can’t wait to find out why. With two daughters, I’m always on the search for youth-appropriate, classic literature, and Anne of Green Gables could possibly be a winner. Add to that that Alyssa and I have always had the same taste in books, and this is bound to be a great selection for this month!

 

Feb. 16 – 22 – Forgiven – Rebecca Brooke

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Well, you might have a hard time finding this book. I was actually given this book along with the opportunity to have my review shared on a book promotions Web site (time to broaden my reading horizons), but you may be able to find an e-copy of it on the Web (try Amazon). This is a contemporary romance, and seems to be a promising addition to our reading list. I hope you’ll find a copy and read along!!

 

Feb. 23 – March 1 – Justine – Lawrence Durrell

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I have a little confession to make… my mom (HI MOM) got me this book, and the other Alexandria Quartet books, for Christmas about two years ago, and they have been sitting on my shelves, unread. I normally read everything my mom hands me, and I trust her judgment 100%, so I finally dug this one out! This blog has given me an excuse to tackle books that have been collecting dust for a while! Justine is the first in the Alexandria Quartet, and is our historical fiction novel for the month. From the brief research I’ve done about it, I’ve found the words “romance,” “erotic,” and “religious following” thrown around on more than one occasion… sounds promising! I hope you’ll pick this one up, and read with me!

Well, there you have it! Our reading list for February, our “Month of Romance.” It’s going to be a great month of reading, and I hope you’ll join me. You’ll notice I avoided the “trashy romance novel” genre for this month… and you’re probably surprised. I thought it was just a little obvious and… well… you know I hate them. I hope you’ll read at least one (and hopefully more) of these books with me! Remember, we’re looking for a “book club” feel, and I want to know what you think!!

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