Reader, I’ve done it.
I turned the last page of the Alexandria Quartet on World Book Day 2022!
About two decades ago, I stumbled upon a fourth of this elusive tetralogy in a secondhand bookstore. I say elusive because that is how beautiful books used to be, long before the advent of online booksellers and FullyBooked here in the Philippines. And you had to wait to chance upon certain books like you would for love, sometimes even thinking they’d never come.
Ranked among the best English-language novels of the 20th century (I still feel that the 20th century writers remain unsurpassed), I decided to be romantic about it, telling myself that I would read none of it until I had collected all four books in the same edition — and secondhand. I only found the last piece of the puzzle last year and I knew it was time.
The copies are all mass market paperbacks with vintage cover designs, spines that cracked as I opened them for the first time, and tanned pages that fell apart… as I, too, fell apart.
Maybe I now deserve to order the edition with the Jan Morris introduction? Perhaps after I write my review. But first, let me catch my breath…