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Metroland [Paperback]

Julian Barnes
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

3 Sep 2009

From the winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction comes a magnificent portrait of youth and growing up.

Christopher and Toni found in each other the perfect companion for that universal adolescent pastime: smirking at the world as you find it. In between training as flaneurs and the grind of school they cast a cynical eye over their various dislikes: parents with their lives of spotless emptiness, Third Division (North) football teams, God, commuters and girls, and the inhabitants of Metroland, the strip of suburban dormitory Christopher calls home.

Longing for real life to begin, we follow Christopher to Paris in time for les evenements of 1968, only to miss it all in a haze of sex, French theatre and first love, leading him, to Toni's disappointment, back to Metroland.

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Metroland + Flaubert's Parrot + A History Of The World In 10 1/2 Chapters
Price For All Three: 18.87

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099540061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099540069
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julian Barnes is the author of ten novels, including Metroland, Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters and Arthur & George; two books of short stories, Cross Channel and The Lemon Table; and also three collections of journalism, Letters from London, Something to Declare, and The Pedant in the Kitchen.

His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In France he is the only writer to have won both the Prix Médicis (for Flaubert's Parrot) and the Prix Femina (for Talking it Over). In 1993 he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the FVS Foundation of Hamburg. He lives in London.

Product Description


"A dazzling entertainer" (New Yorker)

"One of the best accounts of clever English schoolboyhood I've read" (Times Literary Supplement)

"If all works of fiction were as thoughtful, as subtle, as well constructed, and as funny as Metroland there would be no more talk of the death of the novel" (New Statesman)

"Irony and imagery are deployed with a finesse even Flaubert wouldn't wince at...consumately elegant" (Sunday Times)

Book Description

'I cannot remember when I enjoyed a first novel more' Daily Telegraph

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life and love in the suburbs 4 Dec 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For the adolescent Christopher, born of a middle class family in the middle class rural suburbs of the estate agents' and adman's conceptualised Metroland - defined after the First World War as the path travelled by the old Metropolitan railway line out from Baker Street to Watford, Chesham and Amersham - life is about big issues. He and his friend Toni are obsessed with the "purity of language, perfectibility of self, function of art" and Love, Truth and Authenticity. Always capitalised, and often according to the wisdom of such literary luminaries as Rimbaud and Flaubert.
Christopher's transition into adulthood is undertaken in a different Metroland - Paris in 1968. Whilst the student riots rage not far away, Christopher is too busy finding out about the realities of love, truth and authenticity to become involved. Such realities ultimately lead him back to his own childhood metroland again. But now he sees it and life through different eyes.
Barnes paints a rich picture in the reader's imagination, and his use of language is poetic, descriptive and colloquial in turn. To enjoy this, you first have to overcome a sneaking suspicion that you are not quite clever enough to read it. This was compounded (on my part anyway) by having only a smattering knowledge of French and a complete ignorance of most of the authors, playwrights, philosophers and artists dropped into the narrative like so many starlets at a Hello! party.
However, once you've determined not to let this deter you, the novel blossoms into a funny and realistic recollection of the ideals, presumptions and pretensions of one's teenage years, and the recognition that in the end life is often rather more straightforward and mundane than you thought it would be.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars passage of time 15 July 2002
By A. Peel
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Metroland is a very intimate and enchanting novel written in the first person. The reader is drawn into Chris, the narrator's, world at the very outset and from that point on, we are taken on a journey through life, time and age.
We start out in the mind of a 16 year old boy, feeling all his hopes and ideals alongside him, sharing his philosophies and questions with his closest friends in a haven of teenage, mutual, intellectual exchange.
Then comes Paris, May '68. Chris has matured. We sense that he has begun to live, and has become increasingly uncertain of how the realities of life fit in with his childhood ideals.
As the work draw slowly to a close the narrator is experiencing "real" life to the full; the marriage, the mortgage and the child, and yet the need to question seems to have been appeased. We now sense his readiness to live life day by day, without too much forward-thinking. With age, he no longer really asks why things happen, he merely accepts.
The ageing process we feel in the novel is fascinating, in particular when we consider the relationship between the two childhood "best friends", Chris and Toni. As children they seem to parralel so closely, with similar beliefs and concerns, yet as time passes their priorities and goals move in conflicting directions. Chris adapted his ideals to reality. Toni, on the other hand, tried to live by his childhood ideals as an adult, torturing himself in the process in the hopes of being true to his past self and his broken dreams.
Some of us mature and develop and some are children forever ....who is happier?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart and sassy 4 Jun 2012
By Jane
I loved this. The voices are so immediately clear, and the early chapters about schoolboy obsessions and the smart-alecky things they do and say are really very entertaining. It's a slim volume, but no less weighty for it. Not sure why it's taken so long for me to get round to reading it, but I'm glad I have - and heartily recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only Connect! 28 Oct 2013
By sisi18
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is Julian Barnes first book. It is set in a period that was a very happy time for me and the writing took me back to that time
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely look at life in the suburbs 18 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an inhabitant of Metroland myself I thoroughly enjoyed this short book - definitelty recommend! Though the novel could be a little longer in order for the characters to be better developed it is nevertheless an interesting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thought provoking read 12 Dec 2012
Barnes' book doesn't have great highs and lows, action or even much of a story, however it remains engaging and thought provoking throughout.

The humour, greasing the wheelis mostly gentle and warming with a few well placed crude jabs.

The real interest is in how the characters dilemmas make us think on love and life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slim volume 23 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love all Julian Barnes' books and this was no exception, I just wish there had been more of it
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I should have tried harder in French.
This is a rather clever story of two very clever boys. The story line runs from confident (possibly even over-confident) school boys, though growing adulthood and eventually into... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stewart M
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written
Metroland is a beautifully written book but it is now dated. It is about a young man becoming an adult; his youthful arrogance and his first loves.
Published 16 months ago by EA Williams
1.0 out of 5 stars I hated this book
I really disliked this book and found it very difficult to finish. I had to struggle through a few pages at a time because I found Chris, the subject of the book, self centred and... Read more
Published 21 months ago by C. Dawson
1.0 out of 5 stars Obnoxious
The narrator of this unremarkable tale is that special kind of obnoxious, conceited, intellectual who has come to the conclusion that he has something witty and insightful to say... Read more
Published on 26 July 2012 by Mr. F. I. Dudaniec
4.0 out of 5 stars Beginners luck?
I didn't expect too much of this first born of Barnes. But it surprised me al the way through. A little gem.
Published on 22 July 2011 by G. de Bruin
2.0 out of 5 stars Good middle section, shame about the bits on either side
Years ago I watched the film version starring Christian Bale and Emily Watson. It was a standard issue, mediocre, low budget British film with the standard issue low ambitions and... Read more
Published on 21 May 2011 by BS on parade
4.0 out of 5 stars True, True, However, And True
True, the coming of age story has been written ad nauseum. It is also true that the coming of age angle in the 1960's will also cause a reader to contemplate the moment just prior... Read more
Published on 25 Nov 2002 by taking a rest
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