Land of Marvels: A Novel

Land of Marvels: A Novel

Barry Unsworth

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0393335526

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“There is something of E. M. Forster in Unsworth’s knowing depiction of a decaying empire.”―The New Yorker

In this masterful work of historical fiction set during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, the schemes of Western powers grappling for a foothold in Mesopotamia come vividly to life. English archaeologist John Sommerville begins excavating a historical site, believing he has uncovered a find that will revolutionize his field. But when the Germans threaten his dig with their railroad, he hires an Arab spy, not recognizing the spies dwelling in his own house.

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Administration. Then there was the more recent involvement in the petroleum industry. This was less clearly defined, but he was believed to have a substantial holding in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which owned 50 percent of the newly incorporated Turkish Petroleum Company. The face gave little hint of the strain and anxiety that the control of such complex interests might be thought to bring about, or of any preternatural shrewdness. It was florid and equable, the dark, inquisitive eyes

streets and which ones to keep clear of. Rampling had dressed with his usual care in a suit of shantung silk of a very pale blue color and a pearl gray shirt, also of silk, with a fashionably narrow collar. On his head was a panama hat with a turned-up brim; in his right hand one of his silver-mounted canes; in his nostrils the occasional whiff of lavender from the handkerchief sprouting from his breast pocket. It was a fine spring morning, still cool and pleasant. The apricot trees were in

was to them that he would make his report. This had been agreed before he had left the United States for London. The major would have his orders. A bonehead, but his finger would be steady enough on the trigger. “I can shoot too,” he said aloud, very softly. The major would not realize he suspected anything. With the advantage of surprise he would have a good chance of putting a bullet into Manning before Manning put one into him. Or perhaps the major would arrange an alibi, bribe some local

behind this appearance of an officer and gentleman, to come here to me, a woman, to try to make a fool of me, to lay your own treachery at another man’s door, one who is worth twenty of you? Alex has told me everything. I know you are not what you seem. I know you are in the pay of the Russians.” The major had brown eyes, amber in shade, something like the color of marmalade. They were open now to their widest extent, and his jaw had slackened as he regarded his hostess. “In the pay of the

losing it, you know. When I return home, I am hoping to publish it in the American Journal of Oriental Research.” He turned toward Edith then, but still without looking directly at her. “These notes are no good to anyone,” he said. “They never were.” And as he spoke he dropped the file back on the table with a gesture very similar to hers. He was moving toward the door, closely followed by Manning and Spahl, when Somerville, seeming to emerge from some species of daydream, addressed the whole

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