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All Souls [Paperback]

Javier Marias , Margaret Jull Costa Costa
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Aug 1999
At High Table in an Oxford college, the pretty, young tutor Clare Bayes attracted all eyes, not least to her fetching d-colletage. No one's eyes were sharper, however, than those of the visiting Spanish lecturer, invited as a guest on this occasion, and in due course the two young people were lovers, unbeknown to Clare's husband. And if the Spaniard was at pains to cover their tracks, his beloved left evidence of adultery with gay abandon - and all this in a university that was a forcing house of gossip and intrigue, a place where 'at every word a reputation dies'. This affaire between the canny Latin and the flighty English woman forms the central thread in a brilliantly wrought tapestry of Oxford life, at once affectionate in its insight and hilarious in its ironic portrayals of Senior Common Room worthies. (2002-10-18)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (5 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099448483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099448488
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.5 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A dazzling example of the Oxford novel, with all the deceptively innocent wit and humour and all the rueful nostalgia we could want’ -- Times Literary Supplement

‘An intelligent and well-executed book with exceptionally funny set pieces’ -- Independent on Sunday

‘Crackles with deliciously sly observations about Oxford mores’ -- Independent

Book Description

'Probably the wittiest novel set in British academia since David Lodge's Changing Places' Daily Mail (2002-10-18)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Javier Marias 28 Mar 2010
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
I must agree with the other negative reviewer; this book is not bad per se, but it is just so completely outclassed by Marias' other books that I've read (A Heart So White and Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me), which are both so much more ambitious and original and exciting, that I just could not at any stage muster much enthusiasm for it. Javier Marias is hugely intelligent, and certainly one of the world's most key novelists at present, but not on the evidence of this book. It's clever, it's well-written, it's witty, but it doesn't have any of the moments of profundity that his other two I've read have, none of the gravitas. It is nothing more than a novel of academic life on an Oxford campus. Compared to A Heart So White, this is trivial stuff, and that other novel completely eclipses this. If you're new to Marias, read A Heart So White because it's a work of genius; only read this if you've loved his other works and are a completist.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid Oxonian novel 31 July 2003
By A Customer
A highly satisfying novel. Marias constructs a thoughtful but not over-complex narrative and adds plenty of very pleasing (and accurate) vignettes and impressions about life in Oxford. People who are familiar with the city will definitely get a lot out of this book. Even those who are not, however, will be fully able to appreciate the superb approaches to themes including love, sloth, loneliness, and growing old. Fans of W.G. Sebald would be likely to enjoy this book. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All Souls. 27 May 2014
The protagonist of Javier Marias' sixth novel 'All Souls' is an unnamed Spanish lecturer who narrates his own story, telling the reader how one evening at High Table at the Oxford college he is assigned to, he cannot fail to notice his attractive fellow tutor, Clare Bayes. With her low-cut dress visible beneath her black gown, Clare attracts more than her fair share of attention from the other occupants of the table, not least the wandering eyes of the Warden, whose drunken antics absolutely amaze our Spanish visitor. Before long, Clare and our Spaniard are conducting an affair behind Clare's husband's back, and as we read on we learn how our hero becomes drawn into the unique world of Oxford academia, where he meets a whole host of eccentric and richly-observed characters.

In common with other novels by this author, this is a well-written and deftly composed story that draws the reader into the life of our unnamed protagonist; however, I do have to agree with a couple of other reviewers writing here who comment that this novel is not on the same level as the author's impressive: A Heart so White (Penguin Modern Classics) or, indeed, his latest novel: The Infatuations. That said, this novel with with its philosophic approach combined with a 'tongue in cheek' look at academia does have its sharp and darkly comic moments (although some of these may appear a little contrived), and there is a more serious story to be told within its pages. So, an unusual novel and one that is worth the read if you are an admirer of Javier Marias and keen to read all of his books - but not one that I would go out of my way to recommend to someone who was not familiar with the author's writing.

3 Stars.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rare english- spanish understanding 27 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Few Spanish writers have published books about Great Britain because spanish weren't living abroad time enough for understanding foreign countries except South America, and a little, Germany and France in the case of emigrant workers of industry, but this late have finished thirty years ago. Until perhaps 1970, ordinary Spanish and Portuguese writers were prone to dense, mostly rural dramas if not tragedies when religious factors were very important, and strong and sperpentic passions destroyed the personages if they not take catholic confession; summing up, these works were undigestible. For that, certain renaissance of literature in spanish had to be born in South America, but nevertheless, a great proportion of Spanish- American writers uses to taste a marked pulsion towards melancholy or a lujuriant phantasy that -in spite of his quality- is alien to Spanish, that can be bitter o brigth and live but usually not have these qualities. Well, times have changed a little; Javier Marias seems to like english culture and also, personages that would have been something great in life according to standards or current criterions, but that invariably have a hidden weakness that frustrate his social or money success. "All Souls" is a lively novel about the academic world and life in Oxford, I think is realistic, and deliberately no pretends to tell deep questions, though he describes British character very finely, withouth topics, as the love affair of the spanish teacher with a married Englishwoman that is clearly superficial and mostly seems a result of the loneliness of both; but that ligthness is rare in spanish literature. This novel isn't usual as the whole works of Javier Marias and merite to be read.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A trivial, unsatisfying book 23 Jan 2000
By A Customer
As a great admirer of Javier Marias, I have to say that I was disappointed by this book. The narrator is not interesting enough to warrant sustained attention, the assorted characters are only occasionally more interesting, and the set pieces that some reviewers have described as "hilarious", I found ponderous and dreary and in need of a good edit. This book gives no hint of what this author is capable of. Forget about this book and read A Heart So White, an engrossing and complex story with characters to match. It is no exaggeration to say that A Heart So White is one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.
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