Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

The Spoilt City: The Balkan Trilogy 2 - Olivia Manning

Before moving to another Woolf or Lawrence, I'm taking a break and return to Manning's Balkan Trilogy. If on has to write a story without a real plot, I guess Manning has mastered the challenge for me. There is something about her writing that just works, and it is not just that the characters are all brilliantly fleshed out. Maybe it's the sad knowledge of knowing how the hopes of the characters will be disappointed by history in the end? Maybe it's being able to have sight of a snapshot of life at the time that Manning describes - beginning of WWII, when Rumania is being threatened by invasion from the west and the east and the division this causes among people as to which is the greater evil, and thus which side to support, Germany or Russia. 

While they were talking, the sound of the last post came thin and clear from the palace yard. The sunset clouds had stretched and narrowed and faded in the sky, leaving a zenith of clear turquoise in which a few stars were appearing. The square below was lit not only by its lamps but by a reflection from the sky that was like a sheen on water.

   She thought she had made Sasha talk enough and Guy might soon be back. She slid down from the wall and said: “I must go, but I’ll come again.” Before she left, she handed Sasha the paper. “It says your father’s trial starts on August 14th. The sooner it is over, the better. After all, he may be acquitted.” Sasha took the paper, which could not be read in this light, and said: “Yes,” but his agreement was simply politeness. He knew as well as she did that the law required Drucker’s conviction before his oil holdings could be forfeit to the Crown. What hope then of an acquittal?

   As she set out across the roof area, Sasha went to his hut. When she turned to descend, she could see he had already lit his candle and, kneeling, was bent over the paper that was spread on the ground before him.