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Love, Etc.by Julian Barnes
Synopses & Reviews
Twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Julian Barnes continues to reinvigorate the novel with his pyrotechnic verbal skill and playful manipulation of plot and character. In Love, etc. he uses all the surprising, sophisticated ingredients of a delightful farce to create a tragicomedy of human frailties and needs.
After spending a decade in America as a successful businessman, Stuart returns to London and decides to look up his ex-wife Gillian. Their relationship had ended years before when Stuart?s witty, feckless, former best friend Oliver stole her away. But now Stuart finds that the intervening years have left Oliver?s artistic ambitions in ruins and his relationship with Gillian on less than solid footing. When Stuart begins to suspect that he may be able to undo the results of their betrayal, he resolves to act. Written as an intimate series of crosscutting monologues that allow each character to whisper their secrets and interpretations directly to the reader, Love, etc. is an unsettling examination of confessional culture and a profound reflection on the power of perspective.
"An alarmingly perfect novel....Barnes?s verbal mimicry is inventive, accomplished, revelatory, and also fun." The New York Review of Books
"The ever-brilliant Barnes concocts a mordant sexual comedy....[A] funny, occasionally poignant look at the strange confusion between friendship and love..... It's slight but telling and, except for Oliver's wonderful and witty set pieces, oddly subdued for Barnes, but it would make an excellent play, in the Tom Stoppard vein." Publishers Weekly
"Conversely cynical and optimistic about romance, Barnes gives yet another dazzling literary performance, which — through its sheer intelligence, word play and wit — reminds one of Vladimir Nabokov and John Updike." James Schiff, Book Magazine
"[Barnes'] prose is supple and...his themes...possess universal appeal....It's the format that makes this novel difficult....If Barnes' technique is challenging, it also makes possible an immensely rich look into human nature." Brad Hooper, Booklist
"This witty and intelligent novel about a complex love triangle manages to be both humorous and heartbreaking.....There are reversals and surprises galore: secrets are revealed, treacheries are avenged, and the often-mysterious workings of the human heart are once again courageously explored." Library Journal
"Lively, lucid, ricocheting with wryly observed commentary on the human condition." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Painfully astute....Barnes sharpens his insights with his penetrating wit and verbal virtuosity." The Washington Post
"Julian Barnes...[is an] ironist, artificer, psychologically flirtatious pool shark, a maestro who runs the table with his Rashomon variations." The New York Times Book Review
"Julian Barnes is one of the very few contemporary writers who can pull off the postmodern trick with no appearance of strain." Sven Birkerts, The New York Times
"[B]y turns a precise, hilarious parody of the mores of self-serving confession, and a very stringent and stylish inquiry into the nature of truth and the compensations offered by love....In some ways, this is the lightest of novels, a little social comedy that you can read in a long afternoon. But within it, and partly because of the format which leaves the reader without authorial compass and unsure where truths lie, there is a much darker book." Tim Adams, The Guardian (U.K.)
"Novels that aren't plot-driven tend to be character-driven, but in this case the story barely seems to be driven at all. Rather it meanders, often bogged down in Oliver's long, self-indulgent, occasionally funny but ultimately tiresome monologues....[A] book that is long on clever devices and hip angst, and short on real content....[The novel] does nothing to enlighten, uplift or even solidly entertain." Margaret Gunning, January Magazine
"It's awfully flattering to be at the center of this group's attention. As a whole, they are intelligent, witty, wise and deeply entertaining. And if they all seem a little too familiar, perhaps that's because Barnes is awfully good at constructing lifelike characters." Amy Benfer, Salon.com
In matters of love and friendship, how much can be endured? What might be forgiven? And who — given the inevitable, knotty complications — is desirable still? From such questions, and all the surprising, delightful ingredients of a sophisticated comedy that they imply, the author of Talking It Over has created a deep, even dark, feast of human frailties and needs.
About the Author
Julian Barnes lives in London.
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