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The Sea
 
 

The Sea [Kindle Edition]

John Banville
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon.co.uk Review

Incandescent prose. Beautifully textured characterisation. Transparent narratives. The adjectives to describe the writing of John Banville are all affirmative, and The Sea is a ringing affirmation of all his best qualities. His publishers are claiming that this novel by the Booker-shortlisted author is his finest yet, and while that claim may have an element of hyperbole, there is no denying that this perfectly balanced book is among the writer’s most accomplished work.

Max Morden has reached a crossroads in his life, and is trying hard to deal with several disturbing things. A recent loss is still taking its toll on him, and a trauma in his past is similarly proving hard to deal with. He decides that he will return to a town on the coast at which he spent a memorable holiday when a boy. His memory of that time devolves on the charismatic Grace family, particularly the seductive twins Myles and Chloe. In a very short time, Max found himself drawn into a strange relationship with them, and pursuant events left their mark on him for the rest of his life. But will he be able to exorcise those memories of the past?

The fashion in which John Banville draws the reader into this hypnotic and disturbing world is non pareil, and the very complex relationships between his brilliantly delineated cast of characters are orchestrated with a master’s skill. As in such books as Shroud and The Book of Evidence, the author eschews the obvious at all times, and the narrative is delivered with subtlety and understatement. The genuine moments of drama, when they do occur, are commensurately more powerful. --Barry Forshaw

Amazon Review

Incandescent prose. Beautifully textured characterisation. Transparent narratives. The adjectives to describe the writing of John Banville are all affirmative, and The Sea is a ringing affirmation of all his best qualities. His publishers are claiming that this novel by the Booker-shortlisted author is his finest yet, and while that claim may have an element of hyperbole, there is no denying that this perfectly balanced book is among the writer’s most accomplished work.

Max Morden has reached a crossroads in his life, and is trying hard to deal with several disturbing things. A recent loss is still taking its toll on him, and a trauma in his past is similarly proving hard to deal with. He decides that he will return to a town on the coast at which he spent a memorable holiday when a boy. His memory of that time devolves on the charismatic Grace family, particularly the seductive twins Myles and Chloe. In a very short time, Max found himself drawn into a strange relationship with them, and pursuant events left their mark on him for the rest of his life. But will he be able to exorcise those memories of the past?

The fashion in which John Banville draws the reader into this hypnotic and disturbing world is non pareil, and the very complex relationships between his brilliantly delineated cast of characters are orchestrated with a master’s skill. As in such books as Shroud and The Book of Evidence, the author eschews the obvious at all times, and the narrative is delivered with subtlety and understatement. The genuine moments of drama, when they do occur, are commensurately more powerful. --Barry Forshaw


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 320 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400097029
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (9 April 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUDHBQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #991 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of fifteen novels including The Sea, which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Booker Prize-winning author John Banville presents a sensitive and remarkably complete character study of Max Morden, an art critic/writer from Ireland whose wife has just died of a lingering illness. Seeking solace, Max has checked into the Cedars, a now dilapidated guest house in the seaside village of Ballyless, where he and his family spent their summers when he was a child. There he spent hours in the company of Chloe and Myles Grace, his constant companions. Images of foreboding suggest that some tragedy occurred while he was there, though the reader discovers only gradually what it might have been. Now at the Cedars, he contemplates the nature of life, love, and death, and our imperfect memories of these momentous events.
As Max probes his recollections, he reveals his most intimate feelings, constantly questions the accuracy of his memory, and juxtaposes his childhood memories and his recent memories of his wife Anna's "inappropriate" illness and her futile treatments. Through flashbacks, he also introduces us to his earlier life with Anna and his fervent hopes that through her he could become someone more interesting. "I was always a distinct no-one, whose fiercest wish was to be an indistinct someone," he says, confessing that he saw her as "the fairground mirror in which all my distortions would be made straight."
More a meditation than a novel with a strong plot, The Sea brings Max to life (such as his life is), recreating his seemingly simple, yet often profound, thoughts in language which will startle the reader into recognition of their universality. To some extent an everyman, Max speaks to the reader in uniquely intimate ways.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High art 8 Jan 2006
By jfp2006
Format:Hardcover
The awarding of the 2005 Booker Prize (by a whisker, it was admitted) to John Banville for his fourteenth novel - he had previously been shorlisted in 1989 for his astonishing stylistic fusion of penitence (for his crimes) and damn-the-whole-lot-of-you indictment (of society in general), “The Book of Evidence” - was, inevitably, considered a controversial choice.
The tone of “The Sea” is in many ways similar to that of “The Book of Evidence”, and of his other fiction in general. It is another first-person narrative, this time that of the ageing art-historian Max Morden, recently widowed (or ‘widowered’, as he himself tentatively suggests), following the death of his wife, Anna, from cancer, and seeking refuge, solace and a clearer understanding of the past, in a seaside village where he used to spend holidays as a child. His only immediate company there is his enigmatic landlady, Miss Vavasour, and the one other guest, the somewhat caricatural Colonel Blunden...
who may not in fact be a retired colonel at all. Who may very well be a total fraud. But then the question marks hanging over both Miss Vavasour and the colonel are small ones in comparison with the increasing enigma surrounding the narrator himself. As he reminisces alternately about the mysterious Grace family, both feared and worshipped during one of the childhood holidays in the same village, and about the meaning of his marriage to the rich Anna, the reader gradually understands that these are only aspects of a far deeper meditation about his own life and increasingly fragmenting sense of identity and personality.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A touching tale of lost love 25 April 2007
By Jimbo
Format:Paperback
This was the first book of Banvilles that I have read (yes, I'm a slave to the Booker) but I found it enjoyable and exceptionally rewarding. In some ways this reminded me of Something Happened by Joseph Heller - the book was a tender description of his feelings for all but the last few pages when there is a dramatic event and then a revelation. Banville is a skilled writer, and the character of Max emerges complete - the way that the other characters sometime appear to be half-formed reflects the way we sometimes review the past.

I especially enjoyed the way that he wedded the past to the recent present, interweaving recollections about the two women he had loved, though one got the sense it was the ghost of the past to whom he felt the most attachment.

The beauty of the book was added to by the deployment of a rich vocabulary - it was a real feast of adjectives - that didn't smother the book but helped to heighten the tenderness Max felt for his past. Whilst it is true that there isn't much meat to this slender volume, Banville has created a fragile story that reflects the nature of the love he writes about.

It is easy to see why this book stood out to the Booker judges - it is essentially a dissertation of feeling rather than a dramtic love story. This is a book that is definitely worth investigating, though not if you enjoy a big plot and plenty of action.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life and Death, In Poetry, by the Seaside 18 July 2006
Format:Paperback
A middle-aged man, Max Morden, returns to a seaside village, a place from his childhood, in a journey of memories following the death of his wife. As the story develops, many secrets unfold, in a dramatic story of life and death and a disclosure that completely changes Max's perception of the events that took place.

The stunning feature of the book is Banville's writing. It is intensely poetic. It is filled with images and nuances. From every word is squeezed the last drop of meaning, suggestion and emotion. With few fragments of reported speech and little quotations, there is no dialogue. Instead we have a soliloquy that conveys the thoughts, feelings and memories of a man coming to terms with bereavement and death.

Don't expect a fast-paced action story. This is a beautiful book, a work of art in which the stories interweave and the scenes are described at a pace that lets them breathe as we are drawn deeply into Max's troubling and painful world. Even through this, there is a sense of optimism and rebirth: the novel is aptly named, for the sea was there at the beginning, will wash clean, and will be there at the end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book
This is not an easy book to read - the subject matter regarding the relationship between a man and his wife is at times both awkward and saddening to be a part of. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Ruffeydog
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing
No doubt Mr. Banville can write. But the beautiful writing sustains a narrative that only really takes off in the final 20 pages, in terms of the plot. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Heraclitus
4.0 out of 5 stars An intimate portrayal of life and death...
Beautifully written, carefully observed, reserved intimacy. The Sea by John Banville won the Booker Prize in 2005, and richly deserved the prize. Read more
Published 2 months ago by John Goddard
2.0 out of 5 stars Old man's folly
I struggle with books about self obsessed older men whose behaviour has scant regard for others. So saying appreciate this is a good book even if not for me.
Published 3 months ago by C Rix
2.0 out of 5 stars A la recherche du temps perdu
For all that this novel won the Booker Prize in 2005, I found the first half of it a tedious read, and the second half more engaging and yet the end utterly perplexing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ralph Blumenau
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
As other reviewers have said, the writing is very descriptive. However, I found that there wasn't enough in the main character nor enough plot to sustain my interest after the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by V Johnston
4.0 out of 5 stars You won't regret reading this
John Banville is clearly the master of the reflective and dreamy style of writing. You certainly have to concentrate to make the most of the book, and although small you can tell... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Busy Body
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
I found this novel very thought provoking. I'm not a great fan of books where the narrative jumps from present to past throughout but Banville does this so smoothly without... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Norman Grant
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but SO slow!
I had chosen this for a holiday read. John Banville had been recommended by my sister and I agree his writing. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Corinne MacLeod
2.0 out of 5 stars Much Ado About Nothing
This reminds me of another book by Banville - The Eclipse - as it is about an elderly man fleeing his previous life after the death of his wife and starting a new one in a quiet... Read more
Published 6 months ago by John Fitzpatrick
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But then, at what moment, of all our moments, is life not utterly, utterly changed, until the final, most momentous change of all? &quote;
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I was always a distinct no one, whose fiercest wish was to be an indistinct someone. &quote;
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Perhaps all of life is no more than a long preparation for the leaving of it. &quote;
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