The narrator is Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who, soon after his wife's death, has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child; a retreat from the grief, anger, and numbness of his life without her. But it is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled vacationing family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. The seductive mother, the imperious father, the twins; Chloe, fiery and forthright, and Myles, silent and expressionless, in whose mysterious connection Max became profoundly entangled; each of them a part of the "barely bearable raw immediacy" of his childhood memories.
Interwoven with this story are Morden's memories of his wife, Anna, of their life together, of her death, and the moments, both significant and mundane, that make up his life now: his relationship with his grown daughter, Claire, desperate to pull him from his grief; and with the other boarders at the house where he is staying, where the past beats inside him "like a second heart".
What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of this elegiac, vividly dramatic, beautifully written novel, among the finest we have had from this extraordinary writer.
©2005 John Banville; (P)2006 Random House, Inc.
"Magnificent." (Publishers Weekly)
"Captivating." (Bookmarks Magazine)
This story had too many tangential travels for my liking. It's like reading a review that suddenly... oh look a butterfly..
I loved this book, but found the audio version difficult to listen to. The narrator had an overbearing style that interferred with the flow of the beautifully crafted sentences. He seemed to think that his own performance was more important to the text.
Maybe it's just me, as I had read such positive reviews about this book. But I have had to restart this audio book countless times, as I found the story line difficult to follow.. At times you are not immediately aware that the author had jumped back several decades to the subject's childhood, or to his marriage or to the present day. It was well read however, enjoyed the narrator's Irish accent.
After an hour and a half of listening, I am thoroughly depressed. Although the narrator tries to make something of what he is reading, it is very tiresome. Is it a sad past he is remembering? I cannot tell. I am still waiting for the actual storyline. I will probably not continue listening to this story.
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