Reading About Cyprus: Bitter Lemons

Such a mixed bag, this book I chose for Cyprus…
Bitter Lemons, by Lawrence Durrell is his accounting of the three years (1953-1956) he lived on Cyprus. Armed with a keen wit and the ability to spin a good yarn, parts of this book are charming. Kind neighbors, funny encounters with complicated and lively characters, days spent roaming the sunny countryside…tales delightfully told.

Just as often though his tendency towards being very British, in the Empire sense of the word, wins out. Durrell watched first-hand as Cyprus slid into open revolt against colonial rule, but he just could not truly comprehend what was happening. He honestly recounts times when people TOLD HIM STRAIGHT UP what they thought about things, and yet…still he drew a blank. Why would anyone want independence from the benign motherly embrace of Britannia? You could almost hear the Gin & Tonic rattling around in his glass. He didn’t understand what the Greek population was talking about, and seemed to ignore the very existence of the Turkish minority…

All in all, I did get a lot out of this book. It’s a great start to learning more about a fascinating place told by someone that, although infuriating at times, had genuine affection for the island.

Orange Tree near the Monastery in Bellapais
Orange Tree near the Monastery in Bellapais
(Image by Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons)