The Avignon Quintet by Lawrence Durrell … This five-book “quincunx” follows the lives of about 10 people, some ficitonsl, others not, still others the inspiration for the fictive characters. Set long after, before, during, and immediately after WWII, Durrell focuses on love and sex and getting through life with at least some integrity left to your name.
Monsieur – The novelist Bruce something-or-other must travel to Avignon to bury an old friend, who has comitted suicide — or this is the story. But suicide by decapitation? Perhaps! The story takes us to the hills and chateaux around Avignon, and across the Egyptian desert at Alexandria, to tell the story of mysticism, religious fanaticism, Love & Sex, marriage and failure, success and dreams (both realized and fallen-within).
Livia – A dark-haired sister of an Avignon family falls in with the Nazis. Meanwhile, the search for Templar treasure consumes a group of investors.
Constance – The centerpiece story to this quincunx is the story of life under Nazi occupied France, Avignon, double-agents, trading sex for food and clothing, and acts of revenge.
Sebastian – Back to the Alexandrian desert; a mystic cult whose sole purpose is to assassinate its own members for the glory of death; more sex and love and unrequited sex-and-love.
Quinx – Just as you thought the Templar treasure was never to be found or, worse (maybe!) a hoax, the gathering of treasure-hunting knuckle-heads converge on Avignon and, surprise-surprise, get the full wiff (some might say “bond hit”) of treasure-within-one’s-grasp. Lots of good gipsie stories in this tale.
As November 2010 comes to a close, the latest tally for the book-reading year is 27. I think I can squeeze in 3 more by the stroke of midnight this Dec 31st.