Glittering visual evocation, expressed in a tone at once fresh and wistfully ironic.... A world at once random, dreamlike and deeply experienced.
Sunday Times (UK)
Banville proves here over and over that one can write with the true texture of erotic memory without resorting to titillation. He deserves to outsell Fifty Shades of Grey tenfold.
Sunday Express (UK)
Banville does regretful roues better than almost anyone.... His use of language can also be startlingly brilliant .... Terrific.... Full of sadness and yearning.
Sunday Telegraph (UK)
This dazzling novel captures a long-lost adolescent world of passion and desire.
The Booker prize winning author—widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in English today—has produced what many already consider a literary masterpiece.
Sunday Independent (UK)
Ravishingly written and scrupulously observed
We now want them [novels] to provoke, cajole, edify, entertain, puzzle, divert, clarify and console. Banville's new novel does all these things and much more besides.
Banville, with his forensic sensory memory, his great gift for textural (and textual) precision, his ability to inhabit not just a room, as a writer, but also the full weight of a breathing body, is exactly in his element here.
Prose that lingers on every last physical and psychological detail.
A novel criss-crossed with ghost roads and dead-ends and peopled by shifty characters who seem provisional even to themselves. It is written in Baville's customary prose, rhythmic and allusive and dense with suggestive imagery, prose and deliberately slows you down and frequently wrongfoots you.
In Man Booker Prize-winner Banville's 16th novel, the Irish author reprises the character of Alex Cleave, who first appeared in 2000's Eclipse, and then two years later in Shroud. Cleave, a has-been theater actor, reminisces about his 15th summer, "half a century ago," when he had an affair with his best friend's mother, Mrs. Gray, who, he tells us, was "unhappy then," lest readers judge her too harshly for bedding a minor. Interwoven with this vividly drawn summer is Cleave's current existence, which is saturated with pain and regret: His daughter, Cass, flung herself off the Italian coast 10 years ago, and his wife, Lydia, still sleepwalks in the night to rampage through the house in search of her. When, out of the blue, Cleave is offered a role in a biopic of literary critic Axel Vander entitled The Invention of the Past, life and art intertwine beguilingly for Alex, who is engaged in the tricky business of inventing his own past; how is he to unravel the strands of his existence when memory is such an unreliable muse? The problem with this book is that the past is beautifully—perfectly—imagined; it's Alex's over-determined present that's unbelievable.
At the end of a stuttering career, suddenly revived by a role-of-a-lifetime movie turn, actor Alexander Cleave looks back at his first and probably only love—a charged and ultimately catastrophic passion at age 15 for his best friend's mother. Then there's his daughter, whose own scary turn of mind he cannot understand. Always an honored writer, Banville has gained a bigger audience here since winning the Man Booker Prize for The Sea, so this probing study of memory's shiftiness will be anticipated.
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