Monday, January 22, 2018

The Only Story - A Novel by Julian Barnes -February, 2018

Julian Barnes - Born, 1946, Leicester, U.K.

His novels upon which I have posted

Flaubert’s Parrot, 1984

England, England, 1988

Arthur and George, 2005

The Sense of Ending, 2011, Booker Prize Winner

The Only Story, 2018

I was very happy when I was recently given a review copy of The Only Story, a forthcoming novel by Julian Barnes.  The Only Story begins, in England, in the 1960s.  A nineteen year old man and his tennis club mixed doubles partner, a married 48 year old woman, begin after playing together for sometime, an affair.  We follow their evolving complicated relationship beyond the death of the woman to the late age of the man.  

It took me a little while to understand the subtly and power of this novel, the brilliant narrative method.  Told in the first person by the man, his parents signed him up at the tennis club hoping he will meet a nice girl his age.  They are suspicious as he spends more and more time with Mrs, McLeod, we are there when she says call her “Susan” and when they are first intimate.  Susan has been married for a long time, to a man she has not slept  with in ten years.  At first I thought story was being told as a narrative of events as they occupy, but slowly I realized the narrator was looking back from decades ahead.  

Susan, after they have set up house keeping together, slowly becomes an alcholic.  Barnes treatment of the evolving nature of their relationship in which the man becomes a caregiver is totally briiliant.  Slowly the personality of the narrator emerges.  We see him fail in other relationdhips.  We see her spiral downwards.  

There is much more in The Only Story than I have mentioned.  I endorse it highly to all who relish character driven novels.  It really is a wonderful work, it did take me reading a while to realise this.  

Julian Barnes is the author of twenty-one previous books, for which he received the Man Booker Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the David Cohen Prize for Literature, and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in France, the Prix Medicis and the Prix Femina; in Austria, the State Prize for European Literature. In 2004 he was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in London.  - from The publisher.

Mel u


  1. Thanks - I'm looking forward to this one. Cheers from Carole's chatter

  2. Loved his ’The Sense of an Ending’ and have also read Arthur and George. This here sounds a little bit like the first book, so I might try it. Whenever I have time!

  3. Carole. I hope to read your thoughts on this book one day. Thanks for your comment.

  4. I've read and enjoyed quite a few of his books but hadn't noticed the theme of this new one, which reminds me of some of his earlier novels about relationships; I'm intrigued!


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