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
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.
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.
Publication date: 21/04/2006
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 03/06/2005
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
|Publication date:||21st April 2006|
|Genres:||Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
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.More About John Banville