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Summary

A sweeping adaptation of Olivia Manning's classic war novels, starring Joanna Lumley and Honeysuckle Weeks.

1939, and naïve young newlywed Harriet Pringle arrives in Bucharest with her husband, Guy - just as Europe is about to rip itself apart. She believes she knows everything about the man she has married, but soon realises she knows nothing.

Guy is oblivious to her needs and desires, seeming only to care about his job as a university lecturer, his friends and the beautiful, voluptuous Sophie. Struggling to build a life in a strange city, in the face of imminent invasion, Harriet feels bereft - and increasingly isolated.

As the Nazis come ever closer, an act of treachery puts the couple in terrible danger, and with Romania in enemy hands, they are forced to leave the country. Fleeing to Athens and then Egypt, their marriage comes under increasing strain amidst the chaos and upheaval of war. With the future uncertain, can they find the strength and resilience to face it together?

Joanna Lumley stars as the older Harriet, looking back on events many years later, with Honeysuckle Weeks as her younger self. Among the stellar cast are Khalid Abdalla, Alex Wyndham and James Fleet.

Production credits:

Written by Olivia Manning

Dramatised by Lin Coghlan and Jonathan Holloway

Produced and directed by Marc Beeby and Colin Guthrie

Cast:

Old Harriet - Joanna Lumley

Harriet - Honeysuckle Weeks

Guy - Khalid Abdalla

Clarence - Alex Wyndham

Yakimov - James Fleet

Inchcape - John Rowe

Sophie/Edwina - Joannah Tincey

Galpin/Clifford/Newsreader - John Dougall

Bella/Mona - Carolyn Pickles

Drucker/Desmond - Peter Marinker

Sasha - Joseph Arkley

Nikko/Toby Lush/Peter - Simon Treves

Despina/Phillips - Laura Molyneux

Dr Hassolel/Mortimer - Katy Cavanagh

Manager/Jackman - Ben Onwukwe

Dobson - Sam Dale

Dubedat/Aidan/Cpt Hardy - Ben Crowe

Professor Pinkrose - Nigel Anthony

Charles Warden/Mr Buschman - Alex Lanipekun

Angela - Alison Pettit

Bill - Philip Jackson

Simon - Sam Pamphilon

Arnold/Young Arab - Lloyd Thomas

Dr Shafik/Helal - Bijan Daneshmand

Marion - Emily Wachter

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 27 January-2 March 2008

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic reviews

"A rare and many-layered pleasure." (Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph)

What listeners say about Fortunes of War

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A most excellent listen.

Strained relationship between newlyweds at the beginning of the second world war in Romania, Greece, and Egypt - would be my single sentence description of this dramatisation. But it is so much more than that. I feel as though I shared their journey through these horrible and desperate times, the trials and tribulations of their own relationship, and of survival itself. Based on Olivia Manning's personal experiences during the war, with excellent performances from all of the cast, and beautiful narration by Joanna Lumley as the older and wiser Harriet/Olivia.

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Waste of money

Despite high profile narrators l still can't fathom the storyline It was few chapters of absolute rubbish Had l not recognised Honeysuckle distinctive voice l would have given up Joanna Lumley had a few lines Worst audiobook lve bought

1 person found this helpful

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Quality Radio Drama

Superbly narrated by Joanna Lumley, expertly acted by an excellent cast. This was a great adaptation.