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The Resource The only story, Julian Barnes

The only story, Julian Barnes

Label
The only story
Title
The only story
Statement of responsibility
Julian Barnes
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending, a novel about a young man on the cusp of adulthood and a woman who is already there, a love story shot through with sheer beauty, profound sadness, and deep truth. Most of us have only one story to tell. I don't mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives: there are countless events, which we turn into countless stories. But there's only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine. One summer in the sixties, in a staid suburb south of London, Paul comes home from university, aged nineteen, and is urged by his mother to join the tennis club. In the mixed-doubles tournament he's partnered with Susan Mcleod, a fine player who's forty-eight, confident, ironic, and married, with two nearly adult daughters. She is also a warm companion, their bond immediate. And they soon, inevitably, are lovers. Clinging to each other as though their lives depend on it, they then set up house in London to escape his parents and the abusive Mr. Mcleod. Decades later, with Susan now dead, Paul looks back at how they fell in love, how he freed her from a sterile marriage, and how -- gradually, relentlessly -- everything falling apart, as she succumbed to depression and worse while he struggled to understand the intricacy and depth of the human heart. It's a piercing account of helpless devotion, and of how memory can confound us and fail us and surprise us (sometimes all at once), of how, as Paul puts it, "first love fixes a life forever"--
Member of
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ In his newest mesmeric novel, Barnes, as in his Man Booker Prize-winner, The Sense of an Ending (2011), portrays an older man, Paul, looking back at his early life. The title refers to how we all have one love story we tell that defines our lives as well as to the old conception of the novel as a literary form that explores love. In this instance, Paul details how at 19, toward the end of the 1960s in leafy Surrey, just outside London, he fell in love with Susan McLeod, a 48-year-old married woman, at a tennis club. As Paul and Susan plunge ever-deeper into love, Barnes beautifully demonstrates that their romantic fantasy—and, by extension, the novel as a genre focused solely on love—struggles to survive in the face of violence, financial practicalities, and alcoholism. With a narrator every bit as intriguing as Stevens in Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1989), the novel slowly unfurls, and the reader drifts along on Barnes’ gorgeous, undulating prose. Focusing on love, memory, nostalgia, and how contemporary Britain came to be, Barnes’ latest will enrapture readers from beginning to end. -- Moran, Alexander (Reviewed 3/1/2018) (Booklist, vol 114, number 13, p22)
  • Barnes’s deeply touching novel is a study of heartbreak; like his Man Booker Prize–winning The Sense of an Ending, it includes fading reminiscences, emotional complications, and moments of immeasurable sadness as an aging Englishman remembers his first and only love. Bored 19-year-old Paul meets 48-year-old Susan at the tennis club when they pair up for mixed doubles. She has a husband and two daughters older than Paul, but it is the 1960s, Paul’s first summer home from university, and he is impervious to social correctness, parental disapproval, or long-term consequences. Paul and Susan share a satiric view of their suburban surroundings that turns into a secret romance, then a not-so-secret affair. Together they move to London, where, over the next decade, Paul studies law and becomes a law office manager while Susan deteriorates into alcoholism and depression. Fifty years later, Paul looks back on the relationship in an account strewn with unanswerable questions and observations about the nature of love. As painful memories mount, Paul’s narration switches first 
			to second person and then builds more distance by settling into third person. By revisiting the flow and ebb of one man’s passion, Barnes eloquently illuminates the connection between an old man and his younger self. 75,000-copy announced first printing. (Apr.) --Staff (Reviewed 02/19/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 8, p)
  • At age 19, Paul meets 48-year-old Susan Macleod at the local tennis club and the two begin an affair that lasts for more than a decade. Paul reflects on the heady, happy early years of the relationship and then delves into its darker passages and eventual disintegration, which haunts him throughout his life. The specificity of the circumstances and personalities of Paul and Susan make it clear that this is not an "older woman schools young man in love and sends him into the world" tale. Overall, it is a story about memory. Man Booker Prize winner Barnes (The Sense of an Ending) skillfully plays with narrative form, turning the novel into something of a metafiction without making it ponderous or difficult to read. While Paul is decidedly the narrator throughout, the point of view shifts depending on how much he wants to distance himself from the emotional pain. He begins in first person, then moves to second person in the grimmest period, then third person when reflecting on life after Susan, only returning to first person in the final pages. VERDICT Absorbing enough to polish off over a weekend, this novel has a place in popular and literary collections. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17.] --Christine DeZelar-Tiedman (Reviewed 04/15/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 7, p58)
  • /* Starred Review */ A May-September romance devolves into dysfunction and regret. Much like Barnes' 2011 novel, The Sense of an Ending, this one involves a man looking back at a youthful error in judgment and considering its consequences. Paul, the narrator, recalls being 19 and falling for 48-year-old Susan, who's in a loveless, sexless, and abusive marriage. Cocksure about their relationship in spite of others' judgments—Paul's parents and Susan's husband are righteously indignant, and the duo are kicked out of the tennis club where they began their affair—Paul decides to move in with Susan to pursue "exactly the relationship of which my parents would most disapprove." The thrill of independence is short-lived, though, as Susan's nascent alcoholism intensifies; the first half of the book mentions Susan's drinking habit, but as if to mirror Paul's youthful ignorance, Barnes doesn't overtly signal how deep she's sunk until she's practically beyond help. Barnes also shifts the narrative voice across the novel to underscore Paul's callowness: The novel opens in first person, turns to second as if to shift blame upon the reader, then closes in a bereft, distant third. Barnes' characterizations of both Paul and Susan are detailed and robust, though given the narrative structure, Susan remains a bit of a cipher. What prompted her to drink? What kept her from pushing back against her husband? Most critically, what drew her to Paul? Paul, though, is mainly concerned with what made their romance distinct from the usual romantic clichés. In other words, he's narcissistic, and his rhetoric, in first person or not, often takes on a needy, pleading tone ("sometimes, first love cauterizes the heart"; "tough love is also tough on the lover.") But that's by Barnes' design, and it's consistently clear that Paul was in love, just tragically ill-equipped to manage it. A somber but well-conceived character study suffused with themes of loss and self-delusion. (Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2018)
Assigning source
Provided by publisher
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10638445
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Barnes, Julian
Dewey number
823/.914
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6052.A6657
LC item number
O55 2018
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
Man-woman relationships
Target audience
adult
Label
The only story, Julian Barnes
Instantiates
Publication
Note
"This is a Borzoi book"--Title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
20 cm
Edition
First United States edition.
Extent
253 pages
Isbn
9780525521211
Lccn
2017047844
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • on1002290994
  • (OCoLC)1002290994
Label
The only story, Julian Barnes
Publication
Note
"This is a Borzoi book"--Title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
20 cm
Edition
First United States edition.
Extent
253 pages
Isbn
9780525521211
Lccn
2017047844
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • on1002290994
  • (OCoLC)1002290994

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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