Talking It Over Paperback – Oct 27 1992
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Barnes made the simply written book be a real classic, just by having each character tell the story the way he sees it, each ones thoughts are put out so bluntly, and no mistakes in understanding are allowed.
How a small thing one day can change a life forever, how demanding and different people can be no matter how much they feel they know each other, and how essential consistent communication is no matter how much time passes by. Never take things for granted, keep the effort coming all the time...
A wonderful book to read, looking forward to reading more of Barnes works..
The Author Julian Barnes places you in the midst of a triangle, albeit one with tangential appendages, and the story that transpires is only a bit less unusual than the form the book takes. The reader is expected to be the listener, provide a shoulder, and sometimes to refuse the proffered cigarette less neutrality is to be compromised. The menagerie Mr. Barnes provides as your newfound pals, range from the mundane, to the brilliantly eccentric, and when brought together form an eclectic group. The cameos played by the briefest of speakers often come under the heading "He/she lies like an eyewitness". All believe they speak the truth, but truth is relative, perspective is everything.
Mr. Barnes is egalitarian as you are chosen to lend your sympathetic ear to men, women, the young and the not so young. He also offers the occasional insight from a player whose appearance doesn't even rate that of a cameo, florists as psychologists.
He also takes the most familiar range of human emotion and demonstrates with an ease that is a bit disconcerting, how double edged and painful they can be, This is true whether he cuts a swath with a broadsword, or slips a stiletto from the hand of one friend to the vitals of another.Read more ›
Barnes' book explores some very interesting styling touches through his use of three narrators. What is new about that, you ask? Well, in this case the three know that the reader has access to all of the stories so they attempt to "set the story straight" regarding what actually happened. Yes, as in 10 1/2 Chapters, Barnes seems to enjoy with playing with the idea of what is history and exactly how objective can it be; only the reader is juxtaposed into events much like in Calvino's work.
So who got the woman in the end? You'll have to read this one to find out. Who wrote the better book? I think Barnes' book is superior but you should read Amis' "The Information" to decide for yourself. And then you could look into Barnes' latest since he apparently continues the tale there.
Most recent customer reviews
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