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In Talking it Over, Julian Barnes, acclaimed author of Flaubert's Parrot and Metroland, turns his attention to a peculiarly English ménage a trois. Stuart and Oliver have been friends since school. Stuart is painfully aware that "We're rather different, Oliver and me, Oliver impresses people", especially women, so when shy, awkward Stuart meets and marries the beautiful Gillian, an uneasy threesome develops between the two old friends and the new woman in their lives. Gradually the flamboyant Oliver realises "I'm in love with Gillie. I'm amazed, I'm overawed, I'm poo-scared".
As the emotional and sexual complications of their lives begin to unravel, the three characters takes it in turns to deliver monologues and the unfolding action to the reader, leading to repeated backtracking and reassessment of what has actually happened on the part of the reader, as the characters offer different perceptions of the same events. The book's epigraph is "He lies like an eye-witness", which could be applied to all three characters, as Gillian increasingly falls for Oliver and Stuart sinks into misery and dejection. The shocking denouement fails to prevent a feeling that, however brilliantly Barnes draws his three characters, there is very little in them with which to sympathise or identify, leaving the novel feeling like a deft but rather empty exercise in style. Nevertheless, Barnes fans will enjoy Barnes' typically elegant and mordant style and wit. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
The author of Flaubert's Parrot once again devises smart and fabulous fun. On the surface Barnes's newest is a postmodern Jules et Jim , made up only of testimonies from its characters, principally, meat-and-potatoes Stuart; Stuart's new bride, Gillian; and Stuart's best friend, the grandiloquent Oliver, who has fallen in love with Gillian. The structural conceit, however, opens the novel to a wealth of literary gambits, all the more effective for their unobtrusiveness. Barnes plays on Pirandello, for example, giving us characters in search of a reader: they compete for attention, directly address an intended audience ("Have a cigarette? You don't? I know you don't--you've told me that before"), demand that an unsympathetic witness be yanked from the story line. As Oliver woos Gillian, Barnes throws in some teasing references to other pursuits. The ingenious ending allows each of the figures to fashion his own, radically different resolution, while Barnes's sly narration leaves it to the reader to be the ultimate judge and, as such, the ultimate author. BOMC and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Being forced to read a book (and subsequently write a paper on it) usually turns me off - well, who knows, it may still. haven't written the paper yet. Read morePublished on Dec 1 1999 by Joanne
Julian Barnes is an absolute master when it comes to examiningthe psychy of intimate relationships. "Talking It Over" isthe best book that i've read ever. Read morePublished on July 19 1999
if your thinking of buying this and haven't read martin amis' 'Success', don't bother. 'Talking it over' is similiar in idea and format to 'success' but not nearly as fun.Published on April 23 1999
Although i was forced to read this book i am so very glad i was. It's clever, funny and easy to read. Read morePublished on Dec 17 1998
Barnes takes as his message a Russian proverb, "He lied like an eye-witness" and gives brutally honest accounts of the relationships between three people articulated by... Read morePublished on June 25 1997