Now a major film starring Academy Award nominees Jim Broadbent (Iris) and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011
Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.
Now Tony is retired. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove.
In Barnes's (Flaubert's Parrot) latest, winner of the 2011 Man-Booker Prize, protagonist Tony Webster has lived an average life with an unremarkable career, a quiet divorce, and a calm middle age. Now in his mid-60s, his retirement is thrown into confusion when he's bequeathed a journal that belonged to his brilliant school-friend, Adrian, who committed suicide 40 years earlier at age 22. Though he thought he understood the events of his youth, he's forced to radically revise what he thought he knew about Adrian, his bitter parting with his mysterious first lover Veronica, and reflect on how he let life pass him by safely and predictably. Barnes's spare and luminous prose splendidly evokes the sense of a life whose meaning (or meaninglessness) is inevitably defined by "the sense of an ending" which only death provides. Despite its focus on the blindness of youth and the passage of time, Barnes's book is entirely unpretentious. From the haunting images of its first pages to the surprising and wrenching finale, the novel carries readers with sensitivity and wisdom through the agony of lost time.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A slow starter that became a real page turner
A little slow to start, this book soon became a real page turner. Starting with the disjointed ramblings of memory it’s difficult to understand how the author will make the story compelling, but compelling it became. A thoroughly good book.
I just don't get it, either
Hmm, bit of a weird one this. On the one hand there's some great humour and on the other hand there's the no sense of an ending.
I felt pretty thick and frustrated after finishing the book, though having perused a relevant blog it seems like that's fairly common.
It's a shame really because it felt like the book was gaining momentum and tension towards the end. And then to just scatter that tension into opaque ambiguity . . . I felt unrest. I felt great unrest.
... all the way to the end; superbly written, perfectly paced, thoroughly engaging. Brilliant stuff.