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Talking It Over Paperback – Oct 27 1992

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada; First Thus edition (Oct. 27 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394222989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394222981
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #499,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is True there are only three characters in all the book but it does not bore you for a minute. The trio best friends that can't be seperated, but a quick change happens when two of them get married and the third Oliver discovers the most important thing in his life at their wedding day. The style of writing is fantastic, the black humor is just so amazing, it is English humor but oh well it is very well presented.
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..
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Format: Paperback
Prepared or not, while you still must read, what you read is almost entirely directed to you. You are told what has happened, what your new friends think, and what they are to do. Turn the page and then be told of the effect their actions were upon another of your new acquaintances. This book almost becomes interactive. If it were to be read to you, instead of by you, you would undoubtedly answer, interrupt and question them, and then yourself for talking to those who are not there. You would likely take sides, and wish you could conspire to help the party you favor.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Once, so the tale goes, a marriage was broken when the woman took off with their mutual friend. A rather common tale these days but, in this case, made more interesting when both of the men are rather renowned authors of the time. What does the voyeuristic public get? Well...
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.
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Format: Paperback
So far I've read it in 4 languages for more than 20 times. No point of repeating the good comments the other readers have already given to the writter. I'd like to encourage also the Greek/Italian/Danish speaking readers who are not so familiar to English language to read the book in their language without fear. There is nothing missing from the original! Compliments to the translators! They must be as brilliant as Barnes, to give the culture, spirit and black-humour of his into another language and still make sense! I furthermore suggest to everybody to RE-READ IT and you will be surprised to find yourself more in accordance with another character than you first did. That's really impressing! Because in this book there isn't any main character to lead you his way, it doesn't talk about good and bad guys, actually the book doesn't talk at all! Open it and become a witness! The tird eye! It's THEM talking it over...
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Format: Paperback
"He lies like an eye-witness" Russian saying. This quote appears on the frontispiece of this enjoyable novel. The opening words of the novel are:" My name is Stuart, and I remember everything." So I, dear reader, was sucked in straight away. It's a first person narrative from the point of view of the three main characters (the eternal triangle?) Gillian, Stuart and Oliver. If you are familiar with the Japanese film masterpiece RASHOMON you will be familiar with the premise. This book will make your day a little bit brighter. Delicious and sympathetic humour.
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