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Talking It Over (Picador paperback Books) [Paperback]

Julian Barnes
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 July 1992
This account of love's vicissitudes begins as a comedy of misunderstanding, then slowly darkens and deepens, drawing the reader into the quagmires of the heart. The author also wrote Metroland, Before She Met Me, Flaubert's Parrot and A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (10 July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330325671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330325677
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 768,161 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

Amazon Review

In Talking it Over, Julian Barnes, acclaimed author of Flaubert's Parrot and Metroland, turns his attention to a peculiarly English ménage a trois. Stuart and Oliver have been friends since school. Stuart is painfully aware that "We're rather different, Oliver and me, Oliver impresses people", especially women, so when shy, awkward Stuart meets and marries the beautiful Gillian, an uneasy threesome develops between the two old friends and the new woman in their lives. Gradually the flamboyant Oliver realises "I'm in love with Gillie. I'm amazed, I'm overawed, I'm poo-scared".

As the emotional and sexual complications of their lives begin to unravel, the three characters takes it in turns to deliver monologues and the unfolding action to the reader, leading to repeated backtracking and reassessment of what has actually happened on the part of the reader, as the characters offer different perceptions of the same events. The book's epigraph is "He lies like an eye-witness", which could be applied to all three characters, as Gillian increasingly falls for Oliver and Stuart sinks into misery and dejection. The shocking denouement fails to prevent a feeling that, however brilliantly Barnes draws his three characters, there is very little in them with which to sympathise or identify, leaving the novel feeling like a deft but rather empty exercise in style. Nevertheless, Barnes fans will enjoy Barnes' typically elegant and mordant style and wit. --Jerry Brotton

Review

"Few writers think and talk so beguilingly. This book is wonderfully funny. And intelligent. And moving" (Independent on Sunday)

"Quicksilver clever and allusive" (The Times)

"Scintillating... It's funny, quick on the draw, and knows when to soften the gaze. It reads so smoothly, the pages seem to flip themselves" (Observer)

"A writer of rare intelligence. He catches the detail of contemporary life with an uncanny forensic skill... He is, as always, a superb ironist, a connoisseur of middling, muddling, modern England" (London Review of Books)

"A wonderfully wistful and funny novel" (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 19 Feb 2002
By Tom Douglas TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Barnes was criticised when this book was published for using a gimmick, and for being lightweight reading.
The criticism is totally unfounded - this really is a quality book.
It is a classic menage a trois, told in the first person by all three characters. The different views of identical events is entertaining and sometimes hilarious, and the love story will be familiar to everyone.
The characters are very real and you have met all of them (or at least parts of all of them) in your real life, and this gives the book real resonance.
I have read it three times (its extremely rare for me to read any book more than once), and it is easy to open a page at random and read a few pages.
Its impossible to read this book without smiling.
Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully real 24 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
For anyone who has ever trodden the dark road to infidelity, or indeed, found themselves the unfortunate victim of sexual betrayal - Julian Barnes captures perfectly the progressive realisation of breaking up, from confusion to sadness, desperation and bitterness. That said, he maintains throughout a dark humour which pulls the story along nicely and makes the characters all the more real.
Bound up in love, intellect and history, the well-observed characters narrate their own versions of the story, allowing room for differing perspectives and humorous, sometimes painfully intrusive insights.
Always utterly readable, Barnes's character-driven, unaffected style lends itself perfectly to this love-triangle scenario between three kindred spirits. At the same time beautifully simple and painfully complex.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully real 24 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
For anyone who has ever trodden the dark road to infidelity, or indeed, found themselves the unfortunate victim of sexual betrayal - Julian Barnes captures perfectly the progressive realisation of breaking up, from confusion to sadness, desperation and bitterness. That said, he maintains throughout a dark humour which pulls the story along nicely and makes the characters all the more real.
Bound up in love, intellect and history, the well-observed characters narrate their own versions of the story, allowing room for differing perspectives and humorous, sometimes painfully intrusive insights.
Always utterly readable, Barnes's character-driven, unaffected style lends itself perfectly to this love-triangle scenario between three kindred spirits. at the same time beautifully simple and painfully complex.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOSEBERRY 16 Aug 2005
By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Not until I came to the end did I check the publication dates of this novel and John Mortimer's Dunster. Barnes has it. Talking It Over dates from 1991 and Dunster from 1992. Whether there was any communication between the authors regarding their stories, or whether the muse visited them independently, I have no idea at all. If the latter, the resemblance between the plot-lines is nothing less than startling. Safe and slightly dull financial professional has a showy and erratic best friend. Dull professional marries well, and wife deserts him for erratic and showy best friend, whom she then marries. The second marriage fails, partly through Aristotelian hamartia of best friend. The b/f gets his deserved comeuppance, this providing some cold and partial consolation to the wronged dull professional.
Julian Barnes is talented in the extreme. Not only is the book as well written as those familiar with his other work would expect, the plot gives him the opportunity to parade some of his own prejudices regarding the proper use of English, these prejudices being of course voiced by the characters in the book and not directly by the author (as if we would be fooled). In fact it is the persons of the drama who talk from first page to last, never the author for himself, and it is not just the three protagonists but the minor supporting cast as well. This device is very cleverly and adroitly used, again as we would expect, but I myself am sometimes inclined to find Barnes just a little too smart for his own good or for my appreciation as a reader. The start of the book is completely brilliant, for example, with the two lonely-hearts falling for each other, and the talkative Oliver playing gooseberry.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 11 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The basic plot is a menage a trois, but the whole story is told from the point of view of each of the three characters of this novel. Julian Barnes writes expertly about love, portraying the story from various points of view with wit, irony, subtlety. I enjoyed this one immensely, a real insight into the workings of the human mind and, especially, the heart. Don't expect anything too intellectual this one is an entertaining weekend read that you will enjoy and certainly pick up again for its sincere humour and the irony offered on love.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 28 May 2014
By GPP
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Couldn't put it down. Sad I've finished it. Love his books - such a brilliant writer. Can't wait to read another Julian Barnes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing and highly enjoyable 1 Oct 2013
By Philip Mayo VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a story about love, friendship and betrayal which is told from the differing points of view of the three main characters, Oliver, Stuart and Gillian.

Oliver and Stuart are best friends since school. Gillian enters their lives when they are all young adults. Stuart and Gillian fall in love and get married, leaving Oliver feeling a little left out. Next follows a catastrophic breakdown of love and friendship, and the various characters reflect on those events as they proceed to deal with the new reality.

The format is one of alternate voices relating the events as each individual sees them. For instance, there is a paragraph headed .....STUART: in which Stuart gives his account of what is happening. This is followed by a paragraph headed....OLIVER: in which Oliver gives his version of the same events; then it's Gillian's turn, then Stuart again ..and on it goes. There are also some minor characters who come in from time to time to clarify and expand the developing story.

Each character has his or her own very distinctive voice and we come to know them almost personally, as is probably the writer's intent. The characters talk to the reader in a much more direct way than a narrator in a novel usually does. One gets the feeling that each character is addressing the reader directly, almost as if it were an actual conversation. And from time to time the characters talk even to the writer, which gives them an even more "these-are-real-people" feeling. It is all very effectively done and with a lot of wit and verbal dexterity, so that even though these are not happy events the author still allows us to smile as well as to feel the pain. A very good and very enjoyable piece of writing, in somewhat like the style of Martin Amis in terms of flair and flamboyant vocabulary and also quite like the format that Martin Amis used in his novel "Success".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious
I very much enjoyed Julian Barnes "A sense of an ending", and one or two of his other works, but this one I found very tedious, and gave up reading half way through.
Published 12 months ago by Tess
5.0 out of 5 stars Briliant
This is one of my favourite books ever. Have just read it for the second time after some years and still found it fascinating. Shall read the sequel too. Again
Published 14 months ago by loreljane
4.0 out of 5 stars likeable characters elegant plot
I bought Love,etc even before I finished this one ................ First time I read anything by Julian Barnes... He is everything other reviewers say positively about him . Read more
Published 16 months ago by El Massri
4.0 out of 5 stars People and their behaviour under a microscope
Julian Barnes is very good at relationships and people
and the language is alive and vivid.
I could see here the seeds of The Sense of an Ending
which is truly... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Rudi
4.0 out of 5 stars Personalities
A great fan of Julian Barnes and was.not disappointed by this booked. Loved his characterization. Each person's view of the same story was both funny, interesting and enlightening... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jowajo
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever talk
I find Barnes so thoughtful and smart - but at the same time witty and fun to read. None of the three main characters here are particularly likeable. Read more
Published on 17 May 2012 by Simon Bendle
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition
Wonderful book, completely spolit by the poor quality Kindle edition. Examples include - and therefore not limited to! Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2011 by BuyBuyBaby
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing but contrived outcome
I really enjoyed the first part of the book and enjoyed the writing throughout. However, from about half way through, the plot seemed to lose touch with reality and then to fizzle... Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2010 by Mr D P Gorsuch
4.0 out of 5 stars Talking it Over
When coming to read this novel I was aware that opinion had been very varied and I have to admit I was a bit put off by the style of the novel. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2009 by Joyce Williams
2.0 out of 5 stars And over and over and over...
This is a book where a simple story of a love triangle is made more interesting by allowing the reader to view it from the perspectives of everyone involved (or everyone even... Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2009 by Cem Tanova
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