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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.

As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Lawrence Durrell's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Daniel Mendelsohn about the life and work of Lawrence Durrell – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.

Listen to all four novels in The Alexandria Quartet.

This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.

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

Critic Reviews

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

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    26
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    23
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    13
  • 1 Stars
    8

Performance

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    37
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    19
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    14
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Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alan
  • Petaluma, CA, United States
  • 03-31-11

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Allison
  • Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
  • 01-14-12

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marcia
  • Marshall, CA, United States
  • 12-08-12

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • New York, NY
  • 08-08-12

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!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Daniel
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 09-15-11

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Don't like attempt to "act" dialogue in text

Don't like attempt to "act" dialogue in text with exaggerated accents. Sometimes almost unintelligible and always distracting

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Too much like a soap opera

I think I might like the rest of this series, but I was not sufficiently enthralled with this novel to take the risk of reading three more. The writing was beautiful and the setting was intriguing, but the action, or non-action just wore me out. I guess I failed to care about the characters enough to go on with it. They were good and mostly interesting characters, but they just never did very much. It was kind of a cool ending, but it was too little too late for me.

I really wanted to like it, but it was too much like a soap opera: dramatic, slow-moving, repetitious and slow-moving. Did I say that twice? Oops I meant to write repetitious. Oh no! I said that too! Sorry.

Unlike many reviewers here, I thought the narrator was awesome. He is the only thing that kept me going. He is a great reader with wonderful deep vocal tones. Very easy to listen to for me, at least. Some might consider him a little overdone, but I loved listening to him, even his characterizations.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Flossie16
  • 11-14-11

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amy
  • 03-17-15

Return to a classic

Enjoyed the book and now the audio, was almost put off by a poor review but glad I took the chance.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Pam Collins
  • 03-06-14

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jason
  • 08-21-13

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lise
  • 05-08-18

fantastic book, reading performance overdone

narrator mannered and exaggerates characters' voices to the point that it blocked the experience og sinking into the complicated love story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • barbara
  • 06-17-17

So beautiful

The most moving prose ever. A book I have now bought in hardback and will treasure forever

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Louisa
  • 04-07-13

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.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Ben
  • 05-15-15

Really struggled with this

Narration was intensely annoying and inaudible at times because of the use of silly accents. A perfect example of the failings of audiobooks sadly.

Didn't much enjoy the book either. The deliberately poetic prose became irritating before the end of the first chapter. The complete lack of signposting or providing chronology is a fun literary device I'm sure, but coupled with the problematic narration and psueds corner prose, it just added to the chore of listening.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Peter Jenkins
  • 12-23-12

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.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Isabelle
  • 12-06-17

ruined by narrator

I think I have a pretty high tolerance for dubious narration but this really takes the breath away. at 1.5 faster the general narration is good but the voices of the characters are so so awful. I read this book with my eyes and so had an idea of the elegance of Justine, the wittiness of Purswarden and so on. I think it's really sad and I just don't know how he got the gig. If you can turn off (that part of) your ears and pretend that Justine isn't speaking in the voice of a drunk cartoon toad then go for it. I bought the whole series because I really like this book :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-15-18

A Masterwork

Difficult, probing, generous and oblique. Justine is a work of absolute genius: narcissistic in temper, inwardly poignant. But in this existential cobweb of data, the documentation of human frailty and drama, lies more than a germ of profoundity and illumination. The spirituality of decay, of transcendence, rises above the mundane urbanity of a life: like turtles in a barrel, pointless, except for the dramatic turn for the turtles themselves.