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Justine: The Alexandria Quartet | [Lawrence Durrell]

Justine: The Alexandria Quartet

Set amid the corrupt glamour and multiplying intrigues of Alexandria, Egypt, in the 1930s and 1940s, the novels of Durrell's Alexandria Quartet (of which this is the first) follow the shifting alliances - sexual, cultural and political - of a group of quite varied characters. In Justine, an English schoolmaster and struggling writer falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious Jewish woman who is married to a wealthy Egyptian.
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Publisher's Summary

Set amid the corrupt glamour and multiplying intrigues of Alexandria, Egypt, in the 1930s and 1940s, the novels of Durrell's Alexandria Quartet (of which this is the first) follow the shifting alliances - sexual, cultural and political - of a group of quite varied characters.

In Justine, an English schoolmaster and struggling writer falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious Jewish woman who is married to a wealthy Egyptian.

Listen to all four novels in The Alexandria Quartet.

©1957 Lawrence Durrell (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[Justine] demands comparison with the very best novels of our century." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (71 )
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3.5 (59 )
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  •  
    Judith 06-19-12
    Judith 06-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Durrell and Alexandria"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Justine to be better than the print version?

    I don't think it is actually better than the print version, but I read that four times over twenty years and love it madly. That said, the audio version with Jack Klaff is quite wonderful. He gets the characters and seems to understand the city and the circumstances better than most. I think his voice works well for this title...and probably the whole quartet as well.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The slow unfolding of the storyline/plot is beautifully handled and neither too fast nor too slow. I love this because there is a sense of leisure and of the Alexandrian baroque in the book. He is right when he says the city is a character...it affects everything that happens and everyone. This story would not have been the same in another city.

    Time unfolds and the plot unfolds in a way which is not usually seen in novels. I love the books because there is time to savor what happens and discover what it means to the characters and to me.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Bellevue, WA, United States 05-29-13
    David Bellevue, WA, United States 05-29-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Brilliant writing, exotic locale, great narrator."

    Durrell's Alexandra Quartet (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea) ranks as one of the seminal works of 20th century English fiction. Although understanding the setting might require a little research for some readers, the depth of these books, dedicated to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, surpass (IMHO) even Ulysses. Jack Klaff's versatile and sensitive narration exceeded expectation.

    I'm not sure why the Quartet only ranked as 70th (out of 100) on the NY Times "Best Books of the 20th Century" list; my suspicion is that the usual not-set-in-NY biases were at work. Among the thousands of books I've read, I struggle to remember a novel or set of novels of such stunning beauty, complexity and human understanding.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H. Baber Chula Vista, CA USA 10-08-12
    H. Baber Chula Vista, CA USA 10-08-12 Member Since 2008

    LogicGuru

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pretentious and boring"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    pretentious, boring people


    Would you ever listen to anything by Lawrence Durrell again?

    NO!


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Jack Klaff?

    Dunno. I don't notice narrators.


    What character would you cut from Justine?

    All of them.


    Any additional comments?

    I suppose that in the 1950s when this book was published an account of a woman who screws around would have been titillating. Now it's just boring. Everyone screws around. Big deal. Apart from that, Justine isn't in any way interesting so the endless gushing about her seems distinctly unmotivated. And the book is, heaven help us, WRITTEN, self-indulgently written, and about the demimond and the literatti. Ho-hum. A period piece, and a deadly, pretentious bore.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah New York, NY 08-08-12
    Sarah New York, NY 08-08-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Just can't listen."

    I really hate leaving negative reviews, but I have just given up on this audiobook after listening for an hour. I have been wanting to read the Alexandria Quartet for years, without ever finding the time, but I just can't listen to this narrator, especially the character voices. It may be a matter of taste. Please listen to a sample before you buy and see if you can take it. Audible.com - please see if you can get a version by another narrator!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Genevieve Arcata, California, United States 06-04-11
    Genevieve Arcata, California, United States 06-04-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Best book ever written with the best narrator"

    This book one of four is considered the best book ever written in the english language. The narrator brings each character to life with voices better than I could have imagined reading it myself. This is the only audio book Ive actually finished after going back over and over to make sure I had not missed anything.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Petaluma, CA, United States 03-31-11
    Alan Petaluma, CA, United States 03-31-11 Member Since 2002
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    "Excellent/ with fine narration"

    An excellent~~superb book and the narrator is one of the best.


    That said i must also inform all those who purchased this title in the few months after it came out in october to ask audible for the version which is now available and is 9 hours 55 minutes and NOT the 8 hour 55 minute one[ only just taken down last week] which is missing part 4 of the book!!!

    without the ending one is missing much of the story and would have difficulties continuing with the quartet--which i strongly recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    evriman 08-26-14
    evriman 08-26-14 Member Since 2013
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    "What happened?"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Tried it for an hour or two, but couldn't decide whether Justine had emphysema, asthma or just needed metamucil. And if Justine isn't alluring, then what exactly is left? Wasted credit.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcia Marshall, CA, United States 12-08-12
    Marcia Marshall, CA, United States 12-08-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Unlistenable for this reader"

    I have loved the Alexandria Quartet for years. Durrell's writing is so beautiful that I thought it would be wonderful to reread the novels in the audio edition. I read the negative reviews of the narrator, but I listen to a lot of audiobooks, love the medium, and am in general able to adapt to the style of any narrator, so I was not deterred. But I actually had to stop listening to Justine, because I find this narrator impossible to listen to. His general reading is fine, but the voices he adopts for the different characters are contrived to the point of being ridiculous. I have tried, but I just can't do it. And this is one of my favorite novels, and one that should be so beautiful to listen to. Such a shame.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison Thousand Oaks, CA, United States 01-14-12
    Allison Thousand Oaks, CA, United States 01-14-12 Member Since 2008
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    "The performance was a complete disappointment."
    How could the performance have been better?

    I loved this book when I read it many years ago, and I have been looking for the audio book ever since. I was so happy to see it had finally been recorded, and when I heard the sample, Jeff Klaff's voice sounded wonderful in his seemingly natural British accent. However, his acted accents have such strong affectations that I found it painful to listen! He slows down, pauses at very odd moments, and drops his voice an octave making it distractingly hard to understand and listen to. All his Egyptian accents sound as if the person is on their death bed- even the women. It is hard to feel the intense infatuation for Justine that the narrator expresses when she talks in such a ridiculous voice!Sadly, I'm going to need to discontinue listening, and I will not buy the 3 other audiobooks, something I was really looking forward to. Jeff, you have a beautiful voice, have more faith in your own voice and use less affectation, I'd rather hear Justine and the other characters as a softer version of your real voice then the voice you or the director chose for her. It currently sounds like over acting. I'm truly sorry about the negative comments, but I hope that they will serve folks well in the future.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Spokane, WA, United States 09-15-11
    Daniel Spokane, WA, United States 09-15-11

    Avid Listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Exotic Mixture of desires & degradation"

    A torrent love affair erupted b/w the damaged Jewish wife of an Egyptian aristocrat and his poor English friend, while the living, breathing city of early 20th century Alexandria injects its exotic mixture of degradation, desires, and philosophical reasoning into each of them. Durrell's prose is smooth as silk and sharp as daggers, his characters studies are forthright and bald on which the none linear plot weaves and slithers unto the pinnacle of writing art form.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Sonia
    RYE, United Kingdom
    11/14/11
    Overall
    "Justine"

    This amazing book, the first of four very complex novels, takes us to the heart of Durrell's true love; the Levant. He introduces characters that will appear in all four works. This is a powerful novel where the reader is expected to work.
    Although I appreciate the tour de force which is Jack Klaff's reading, it did not 'carry me', this may be because I had already read the work in print and had formed my own internal voice.
    The character of Justine is drawn with sympathy and conviction. The engaging mystery is to understand motivation through complex and partial revelation.

    To read only Justine is to miss the excitement and richness that awaits us as we move through the three subsequent novels.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • P. Collins
    Galashiels, United Kingdom
    3/6/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "Jack Klaff is the best reader yet"
    What did you like most about Justine?

    You need to listen to the whole Quartet to appreciate the story - set in Alexandria and dealing with complex personal relationships


    Would you be willing to try another book from Lawrence Durrell? Why or why not?

    The story is compelling and I shall listen to it all over again!


    What about Jack Klaff’s performance did you like?

    Best reader yet - his range of voices for different characters is exceptional and so true to the story


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It is sad, funny, realistic, infuriating - some characters you love and others you want to shake! I love the whole Quartet


    Any additional comments?

    Essential to read the whole Quartet

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jason
    harpenden, United Kingdom
    8/21/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "smug narrator?"
    Any additional comments?

    Bearable overall, though the reader is strangely ironic and smug, and does some terrible over the top accents/ voices throughout (some very hard to understand), sounds like he's taking the mick!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Louisa
    Freshwater Bay, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "oh dear this is so boring"

    This book combines an really awful reader with a very pretentious text. Part of the problem is that the book has a history of being "great", but it's dreadfully outdated. That might be less noticeable if the reading was not so truly awful. I had planned to complete my literary education by listening to the whole series - project abandoned. I made it through to the end through dogged determination and much walking! But you frankly don't care what happend to the characters and it's a huge relief when it was all over.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Boncath, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Justine is the starter for Four"

    This first part of the Alexandria Quartet is superbly read and really brings the characters in the book to life. As a Brit, I would have preferred a British reader, as the author and characters are non-Americans. Nothing racist just looking for authenticity! The language is amazing and this volume certainly makes me want to read the other three in the quartet, have downloaded Balthazar and will definitely buy the other two.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results

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