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The Sea by John Banville
  

The Sea

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RRP £8.99

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Winner of the Man Booker 2005.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.
THE SEA is not a likely story: there is this hypochondriacal, slightly sodden, aesthetically
fastidious art historian, supposedly engaged in a scholarly monograph on Bonnard, who totters off down a memory lane which is "rutted as always was".

Well, but his wife of thirty years has died, as she said, of an illness quite inappropriate to their style of living. So, forlorn and bewildered, Morden has this vivid dream, and, waking, feels drawn to revisit the scene of a youthful seaside holiday. He is not drawn to revisit the chalet with its smelly little wooden outhouse where he and his lard-white father and resentful mother went for their holidays, but to the Cedars in Station Road.

The Grace family holidays at the Cedars; their motor car stands in the drive; Mr. Grace, Carlo, deeply suntanned, drinks ice blue gin with a slice of lemon; they have a picnic basket, folding canvas chairs, bathing dresses and a travelling rug. Mrs. Grace, Constance, Connie, wears sun glasses with white plastic rims, smokes cigarettes, and regards her husband with tolerant amusement. There are the twins, a boy and a girl, Morden's age, and a young, unhappy
governess.

THE SEA is a book to be savoured, remembered, and reread: when the Grace's motor car sweeps by "Tall grasses in the ditch, blond like the woman's hair, shivered briefly and returned to their former dreaming stillness."

As Morden tells his story with a shrug and silent laughter (and sometimes with tears) he keeps company with composers, poets, Greek gods, artists and philosophers. But Mrs. Grace, the twins and the hapless governess prevail. And always The Waves. Max Morden has come amongst us, and will remain with us, probably, for ever and ever. Amen.


Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Max writes about art, he tells his story in flowing, gracious prose. Recently widowed, he comes to a seaside house he knew as a child and reflects. Alternating with memories of childhood holidays and his life with his wife, Anna, mostly her last year when they both knew she was dying of cancer, this beautiful book definitely deserved its Man Booker win.

Similar this month: Joseph Boyden.
Comparison: Dermot Bolger, Barry Unsworth, Simon Mawer.

If you like John Banville you might also like to read books by Colm Toibin, Barry Unsworth and Simon Mawer.

Synopsis

The Sea by John Banville

When Max Morden returns to the coastal town where he spent a holiday in his youth, he is both escaping from a recent loss and confronting a distant trauma.

The Grace family appeared that long-ago summer as if from another world. Drawn to the Grace twins, Chloe and Myles, Max soon finds himself entangled in their lives, which are as unsettling as they are seductive. What ensues will haunt him for the rest of his years and shape everything that is to follow.

Utterly compelling, profoundly moving and illuminating, The Sea is quite possibly the best novel John Banville has ever written.

Reviews

Remarkable. . . . The power and strangeness and piercing beauty of [ The Sea is] a wonder. - The Washington Post Book World

With his fastidious wit and exquisite style, John Banville is the heir to Nabokov. . . . The Sea [is] his best novel so far. - The Sunday Telegraph

The Sea offers an extraordinary meditation on mortality, grief, death, childhood and memory. . . . Undeniably brilliant. - USA Today

A gem. . . . [The sea]is a presence on every page, its ceaseless undulations echoing constantly in the cadences of the prose. This novel shouldn't simply be read. It needs to be heard, for its sound is intoxicating. . . . A winning work of art. - The Philadelphia Inquirer


About the Author

John Banville

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His first book, Long Lankin, was published in 1970. His other books are Nightspawn, Birchwood, Doctor Copernicus (which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1976), Kepler (which was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1981), The Newton Letter (which was filmed for Channel 4), Mefisto, The Book of Evidence (shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize and winner of the 1998 Guinness Peat Aviation Award), Ghosts, Athena, The Untouchable, Eclipse and Shroud. He has received a literary award from the Lannan Foundation. He lives in Dublin.

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Book Info

Publication date

21st April 2006

Author

John Banville

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Author's Website

www.benjaminblackbooks.com/

Publisher

Pan Macmillan

Format

Paperback
272 pages

Categories

All Shortlists and Winners
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780330483292

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