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"Revolution and Roses" is set in Alexandria, its period the week leading up to King Farouk's abdication, its cast English, Greek and Egyptian, its action swift and exciting. It begins with Eric Blaney's meeting with his half-brother Tim, just arrived from England. Eric is by now an old Alexandrian, married to Lydia, the daughter of Paulos Dragoumis, coffee merchant by profession, political philosopher by preference. He finds Tim in the company of a woman journalist, Elaine, who sees the revolutionary situation as a wonderful opportunity for her. The trouble is, she lacks an entry visa. Eric, anxious to be helpful, tries to smuggle her and Tim ashore in a launch. On landing the party is arrested by Lieutenant Mahmoud Yehia, one of the revolutionary officers, who eases but simultaneously complicates matters by falling instantly in love with Elaine. From this point the story develops unpredictably but in that delightful blend of comedy and drama of which P H Newby was an acknowledged master. The revolution in Alexandria was alarming enough: to be involved in it, as all these strange characters are, was no laughing matter. But their predicaments could be viewed from an angle that yielded entertainment. Without unfairly exploiting this advantage P. H. Newby wrote this novel in the vein of Picnic at Sakkara but more serious in its treatment of events and their consequences for individuals.
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