A story that seems unlikely but is painted in a very believable way: the love story of a 48-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man. Everything is wonderful about this book. That doesn't mean it isn't sad, but I breezed through this in a matter of days and adored every page. Recommended By Jeffrey J., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
One of the Best Books of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle, Financial Times
Most of us have only one story to tell...only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine.
One summer in the sixties, in a staid suburb south of London, nineteen-year-old Paul comes home from university and is urged by his mother to join the tennis club. There he's partnered with Susan Macleod, a fine player who's forty-eight, confident, witty, and married, with two nearly adult daughters. She is a warm companion, her bond with Paul immediate. And soon, inevitably, they are lovers.
Basking in the glow of one another, they set up house together in London. Decades later, Paul looks back at how they fell in love and how — gradually, relentlessly — everything fell apart. As he turns over his only story in his mind, examining it from different vantage points, he finds himself confronted with the contradictions and slips of his own memory — and the ways in which our narratives and our lives shape one another. Poignant, vivid and profound, The Only Story is a searing novel of memory, devotion, and how first love fixes a life forever.
“Profoundly enjoyable….Through his precise attention to the marvels of love and his perfect stylistic accompaniments to each state…. Barnes has once again shown himself capable of transforming the mundane and ephemeral into the lyrical and lasting.” Los Angeles Review of Books
“Written with crystalline retrospection….The youthful missteps that give shape to life is Julian Barnes’s great theme.” Vogue
“The prose master paints a lovely, elegiac portrait of a young man’s disruptive love affair…forgoing the easy literary clichés of May-December romance for something much sadder, deeper, and more resonant.” Entertainment Weekly
“Brilliant….[Holds] a commitment not only to great storytelling but also to exploring how stories are told.” San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
JULIAN BARNES is the author of twenty-one previous books, for which he has 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; the French Prix Médicis and Prix Femina; the Austrian State Prize for European Literature; and 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.