Books - Review

Showing all books by: Julian Barnes

Flaubert's Parrot
Story of a doctor, a Flaubert enthusiast, who seems to be coming to terms with his wife's suicide. Lot's of biographical stuff about Flaubert on the way.
Jolly good, made me want to read Madame Bovary.
Score: 7
Published: 1984
Read: September 3rd 2006

Arthur & George
Story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George the solicitor (with Indian father), who gets perseucuted by the police and eventually accused and convicted of writing nasty anonymous letters and 'ripping' livestock. Arthur however has time on his hands and decides to apply the methods of his most famous creation to try and help clear George's name.
Great, really enjoyed this. Very interesting characters with good growing-up stories, followed by exciting crimes, arrest and courtroom drama, prison and finally redemption. How much is true?
Score: 8
Published: 2005
Read: November 4th 2007

The Sense of an Ending
Tony and his friends first meet Adrian at school where he joins their clique, despite the fact that he is more intellectual and destined for Cambridge and success, they think. But after leaving school the group begins to drift apart and Tony gets his first proper girlfriend. However his relationship with Veronica comes to an end, but it then appears that Adrian was more interested in Veronica than Tony realised. Tony's life moves on but years later he is haunted to receive a legacy of a diary and GBP500 from Veronica's mum, prompting him to revisit his past and uncover a history he was unaware of at the time.
This was a really good read, I thought he did a great job of conjuring up a vision of a kind of grey, bleak 1950's middle class school-boy Britain growing up scenario, and all his characters seemed very realistic. Great story, with lots of thoughtful and intriguing twists on the way as Tony slowly slowly realises how much of his past passed him by at the time. Lina just bought us a copy of this - a week after we just read it anyway :)
Score: 8.5
Published: 2011
Read: July 23rd 2012

England, England
The story centres on the life and career of Martha, who, following the childhood stresses of an absent father, goes to work for Sir Jack Pitman, successful millionaire industrialist. Sir Jack dreams of realising his final immortalising project of turning the Isle of Wight into an England theme park. Work goes ahead on the park which swiftly becomes a more concentrated and successful version of England than England itself, leading to political and social changes on the mainland. Meanwhile Martha also discovers some unpleasant truths about Sir Jack's private life - can she use these to her advantage?
Hmmm. Bit of a struggle to finish this one really, although the underlying ideas were great, and the characters OK, it all just seemed to land a bit wide of the mark for me. Set in a not too distant future, some of the situations/events were too daft (the Royal Family, for instance), to be at all realistic. Anyway, more importantly, they just had "Julian Barnes' Novels" as the final category on "Pointless" yesterday, and I would have won the money with this book, so it's not all bad :)
Score: 6.5
Published: 1998
Read: October 4th 2012