Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Rain Forest by Olivia Manning

First published in 1974 but despite knowing this author from The Balkan and The Levant trilogies I had never come across this title before. It was drawn to my attention when I read a review by a friend; she then very kindly sent me her copy.

A tale from the last days of the British Empire, When Hugh Foster a failing script writer takes a temporary post with the Foreign Office; on the island of Al-Bustan in the Indian Ocean his marriage is already very rocky. After eleven years of married life he and his wife Kristy, a writer herself, are leading somewhat separate lives and Hugh seems somewhat surprised that she had agreed to go with him. This posting is to be an opportunity for them to start afresh.
Settling in to their new life in Al-Bustan is no easy task as they find themselves surrounded by snobbery and political scheming by people who just do not want to accept either of them into island society. They are both treated appallingly but particularly Kristy, one could not help feeling sorry for this weak and pathetic couple. It was so annoying when they put up with such treatment, especially at the hotel where they had to deal with the most terrible humiliations!
An extremely tense and sad ending to a novel that although I found exasperating at times I could not help but like as it is so well written.

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