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The Sea

by

The Sea  Cover

 

Awards

2005 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Staff Pick

Banville's fluid prose glides over the pages of The Sea, a rich story filled with heart and bittersweet longing. I pored over the luminescent descriptions of time and place and the beautiful characters that make up this world. Clearly the Man Booker was well deserved.
Recommended by Ann E., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this luminous new novel about love, loss, and the unpredictable power of memory, John Banville introduces us to Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child to cope with the recent loss of his wife. It is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of this elegiac, gorgeously written novel — among the finest we have had from this masterful writer.

Review:

"Banville's magnificent new novel, which won this year's Man Booker Prize and is being rushed into print by Knopf, presents a man mourning his wife's recent death-and his blighted life. 'The past beats inside me like a second heart,' observes Max Morden early on, and his return to the seaside resort where he lost his innocence gradually yields the objects of his nostalgia. Max's thoughts glide swiftly between the events of his wife's final illness and the formative summer, 50 years past, when the Grace family-father, mother and twins Chloe and Myles-lived in a villa in the seaside town where Max and his quarreling parents rented a dismal 'chalet.' Banville seamlessly juxtaposes Max's youth and age, and each scene is rendered with the intense visual acuity of a photograph ('the mud shone blue as a new bruise'). As in all Banville novels, things are not what they seem. Max's cruelly capricious complicity in the sad history that unfolds, and the facts kept hidden from the reader until the shocking denouement, brilliantly dramatize the unpredictability of life and the incomprehensibility of death. Like the strange high tide that figures into Max's visions and remembrances, this novel sweeps the reader into the inexorable waxing and waning of life." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A peculiar and profound satisfaction comes from experiencing the prose of John Banville. Like some aged liquor, potent and malty, his writing demands to be imbibed in appreciative sips, little by little." The Independent on Sunday

Review:

"Unlike so many novels, I was forced to read with the dictionary at my side. The Sea satisfies because it gives the reader...a rigorous workout." Oregonian

Review:

"What The Sea offers in abundance is beautiful writing." Denver Post

Review:

"They say no critic can write great fiction, and certainly great critics have produced some conspicuously failed novels. But a great novelist can turn even a critic...into a compelling protagonist." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[T]reacherously smart, and haunting...its story of a ravaged self in search of a reason to go on is cloaked in wave after wave of magnificent but hardly consoling prose." Boston Globe

About the Author

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. The author of thirteen previous novels, he has been the recipient of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. He lives in Dublin.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

sentina, July 22, 2012 (view all comments by sentina)
I don't know if it is because the book is not in American English, or if it is because the author is from a different educational class, but there were at least 175 words in this book that I did not know, such as ziggurat, revenant, velutinous, and ichor. This detracted from the reading for me. It just seemed like he was trying too hard to be poetic or profound, but failed because of this.

The lack of commas where they should be, creating run on sentences, occur often enough to be annoying to me.

The most interesting part to me was the way sudden memories would intrude into the narrator's mind in the middle of another train of thought, the way that remembered images do, and the detail with which they are described.

Not much to this book; not very moving emotionally. Very self-absorbed, and a lot of alcoholism.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
sentina, July 22, 2012 (view all comments by sentina)
I don't know if it is because the book is not in American English, or if it is because the author is from a different educational class, but there were at least 175 words in this book that I did not know, such as ziggurat, revenant, velutinous, and ichor. This detracted from the reading for me. It just seemed like he was trying too hard to be poetic or profound, but failed because of this.

The lack of commas where they should be, creating run on sentences, occur often enough to be annoying to me.

The most interesting part to me was the way sudden memories would intrude into the narrator's mind in the middle of another train of thought, the way that remembered images do, and the detail with which they are described.

Not much to this book; not very moving emotionally. Very self-absorbed, and a lot of alcoholism.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Heather Thayer, August 25, 2010 (view all comments by Heather Thayer)
Unbelievably self-absorbed and boring. The writing is self-consciously cloying -- "oh, look at me, I am trying for a Booker prize," with ten words where two would have done. The meaning is obscured by the overly stylized writing and superimposed Ominous Meaning. If there was a story (or a point), it was lost in all of the posturing and "oh look, I am poetic" meanderings. I sent sentences from this book to friends as a joke. I think the only reason this won the prize is that the Committee couldn't understand what it was reading, but it sounded important.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 5 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400097029
Author:
Banville, John
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Authors
Subject:
Grief
Subject:
England
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
20060831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8.04x5.28x.55 in. .49 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Man Booker Prize Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Sea New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400097029 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Banville's fluid prose glides over the pages of The Sea, a rich story filled with heart and bittersweet longing. I pored over the luminescent descriptions of time and place and the beautiful characters that make up this world. Clearly the Man Booker was well deserved.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Banville's magnificent new novel, which won this year's Man Booker Prize and is being rushed into print by Knopf, presents a man mourning his wife's recent death-and his blighted life. 'The past beats inside me like a second heart,' observes Max Morden early on, and his return to the seaside resort where he lost his innocence gradually yields the objects of his nostalgia. Max's thoughts glide swiftly between the events of his wife's final illness and the formative summer, 50 years past, when the Grace family-father, mother and twins Chloe and Myles-lived in a villa in the seaside town where Max and his quarreling parents rented a dismal 'chalet.' Banville seamlessly juxtaposes Max's youth and age, and each scene is rendered with the intense visual acuity of a photograph ('the mud shone blue as a new bruise'). As in all Banville novels, things are not what they seem. Max's cruelly capricious complicity in the sad history that unfolds, and the facts kept hidden from the reader until the shocking denouement, brilliantly dramatize the unpredictability of life and the incomprehensibility of death. Like the strange high tide that figures into Max's visions and remembrances, this novel sweeps the reader into the inexorable waxing and waning of life." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A peculiar and profound satisfaction comes from experiencing the prose of John Banville. Like some aged liquor, potent and malty, his writing demands to be imbibed in appreciative sips, little by little."
"Review" by , "Unlike so many novels, I was forced to read with the dictionary at my side. The Sea satisfies because it gives the reader...a rigorous workout."
"Review" by , "What The Sea offers in abundance is beautiful writing."
"Review" by , "They say no critic can write great fiction, and certainly great critics have produced some conspicuously failed novels. But a great novelist can turn even a critic...into a compelling protagonist."
"Review" by , "[T]reacherously smart, and haunting...its story of a ravaged self in search of a reason to go on is cloaked in wave after wave of magnificent but hardly consoling prose."
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