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Books: Spoken Word

In Xanadu

by William Dalrymple

CSA, c 2hrs 30 mins, pounds 8.99

CONSIDERING THE attractions of travel literature in spoken-word for the driver, or sailor on night-watch, there is surprisingly little of it about. But in search of more work by the inimitable William Dalrymple, whose City of Djinns I rhapsodied over early this year, I discovered a rich vein in the CSA Travelling Companions series. This includes Dalrymple's , an account of his 1986 journey in the footsteps of Marco Polo from Jerusalem to Xanadu in Mongolia, carrying with him, as Polo did, a phial of holy oil from the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre. He did not manage to present it to Kubla Khan, but he did have many hilariously risky and illuminating adventures on and off the Silk Road.

Bitter Lemons

by Lawrence Durrell

CSA, c 2hrs, pounds 8.99

LAWRENCE DURRELL went to Cyprus in 1953 to live cheaply and write, and at first his legendary Bitter Lemons is an idyll of exotic orchards and vine-shaded balconies, full of humour and insight into everyday life in the village of Bellapaix. But gradually Durrell is caught up in the struggle for independence from Britain and union with Greece. His pupils became terrorists, tragedy strikes and, in 1956, he has to leave. Part elegy, part apologia, this is a book of rare calibre, full of phrases so acute and finely tuned that I found myself rewinding to hear them again. Andrew Sachs's reading is quite superb.