Tuesday 18 September 2018

The Only Story by Julian Barnes

I'm always enticed (and more than a little intimidated) by the Julian Barnes books I see in the bookshop. They do look very literary, but also like the man knows what he is writing about. An authority on every topic and also the way to write about it.

And maybe I'm also a bit scarred - the look of Barnes's books reminds me of Ian MacEwan, the last one of which I read (Nutshell) didn't appeal. The Children Act was beautiful.

Now that I've finished my first Barnes (lent to me by a friend- I never did overcome that intimidation), I can say with assurance, that I was right to judge this one by its cover.

A love story. Paul meets Susan in the 1960s at a tennis club, where they are thrown together in a doubles tournament. He is 19, she close to 50. They fall in love, and this is a poignant look back at their story.

“Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.”

“Perhaps love could never be captured in a definition; it could only ever be captured in a story.”

“Strange how, when you are young, you owe no duty to the future; but when you are old, you owe a duty to the past. To the one thing you can’t change.”

It's beautiful. The author makes wonderful use of the first, second and third person narrative throughout the rendering - which would make for a good case study in a writing course.

I will be frequenting the library and my bookshop until I've read some more Julian Barnes books - nothing to fear here except the intimidation of excellent and inspirational writing.

4 stars

ISBN: 9781787330696


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