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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "All of life...no more than a long preparation for leaving."
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...
Published on 18 Dec. 2005 by Mary Whipple

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too clever for its own good
Banville makes no secret of the fact that when he writes using the pseudonym 'Benjamin Black' he is able to work quickly and relatively easily whilst when it comes to his 'literary' works he is resolutely meticulous in both their planning and execution. In 'The Sea' this is evident from the very first page. It is immediately apparent that he has very carefully considered...
Published on 23 Nov. 2010 by Alexis Paladin


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but depressing, 5 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: The Sea (Paperback)
I know John Banville is an accomplished writer, that is never in doubt, but he does appear to have swallowed a dictionary for no better reason than to impress the reader. I find that irritating and pretentious. The purpose of reading is to enjoy, not to be made to feel inferior. He himself has described other of his works as pretentious. No wonder he writes detectives under another name.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Life is just too short, 27 Jun. 2006
This review is from: The Sea (Paperback)
If you want a story riddled with words an English professor from the 'fifties might have used, some of them now obsolete - or if not, should be - then this book is for you. I found ten percent of the book worth reading, but that, for me, is not good enough. As my own professor used to say, "This writing has an awful lot of so-whattedness about it". Sad to say I didn't reach the end. Life is just too short.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 12 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Sea (Hardcover)
Great item
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic, difficult and often distasteful but a vital analysis of grief, 27 Jun. 2007
This review is from: The Sea (Paperback)
Previous reviewers have referred to the style of Banville's prose overshadowing the plot. This is a classical device and can be seen in a whole range of writers from Milton to Thackeray, Joyce and Woolf. The plot, if we can call it that, is simply a space for Banville to furnish with elaborate prose/poetry.

The central character, Max Morden, retreats to a seaside village to confront memories from his past while grieving for his wife, Alice, who has recently died from a terminal disease. Banville is unsentimental in his approach to Morden. Everything is seen through the prism of Morden's grief and, one can argue, Morden is not a particularly likeable character. This is perhaps deliberate in an effort to demonstrate that the grieving process is inherently selfish but nevertheless necessary; dislikeable as Morden is, he is all too human. Grief means that one must play the `victim'; an altogether unattractive quality. People respect those with stoicism, something Morden seems to lack. Therefore, Banville has revealed a schism here; we may sympathise with someone's grief, but we are also repelled by the display of it.

Morden's fascination with Chloe Grace borders on the obsessional. This is a symptom of a man who clearly does not like himself. When we find out what happens to Chloe, then perhaps this is not surprising. However, I'm not clear as to why Chloe and her brother Myles suddenly take it upon themselves to swim out into the sea in an apparent suicide. Chloe is a sexually aggressive girl. Is Banville suggesting she has been sexually abused? Has she found out that Rose's lesbian crush for her mother has been taken up? Has she witnessed something between them? This is not clear. All we know is that Chloe is a very assertive, often aggressive and bullying girl, who takes it in turn to provocatively mock, tease and play with Morden's boy character. She is successful in enlisting his help when she wants to exert her authority over others - one example being when they humiliate the `townie' - a naïve boy from the city. Banville also refers to the class differences between himself and Chloe's family. He is from the lower class whose family live in a cheap chalet while Chloe's family are much more confident and comfortable about their higher status and seem to enjoy living in the Cedars. This is an attractive quality for Morden. Indeed he draws parallels with his attraction to his deceased wife Alice, who came from a wealthy albeit criminally flamboyant background.

Grief sits uncomfortably with a weak character with little knowledge of himself; a character who is easily influenced by those whom he deems to be a of a higher class position to him; a character with little direction and motivation in life. If there is a lesson to be learned from this book it is how NOT to deal with grief and how one has to be more comfortable with one's self and create sufficient psychological coping resources to deal with the loss of a loved one.

Not an easy book by any means but an essential analysis of the solipsism of grief and weakness.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars novel., 11 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: The Sea (Paperback)
At the moment i am still reading this book,and am at present
unable to put it down,great read.The Sea
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11 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's a mystery....., 10 Oct. 2006
By 
Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sea (Hardcover)
....how books like this win the Booker Prize. The Sea is over-blown, short on anything much happening, and unexceptional in terms of style. Whilst it explores the themes of death and loss, other authors have done it better, and with some sense of humour to lighten the bleakness. Banville seems to over egg his story, it's hard to have sympathy for or like any of the characters, and the constant shifting of the narrative between the present and the past works well at first and then begins to grate. One further riddle - The Sea is listed as one of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. Trust me - life is simply to short to bother.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sea John Banville, 8 Oct. 2009
By 
Ms. W. Gibbs - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sea (Paperback)
A book I wanted to read for a long while. Beautifully written a book to treasure.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 16 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Sea (Paperback)
good
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, but slow, 13 Nov. 2005
This review is from: The Sea (Hardcover)
I must admit that this is the first time I've read anything from John Banville (Booker Prize 2005 winner). The book is beautifully written (totally agree with the other reviews), but it is difficult to fully appreciate the book because I cannot relate to the main character at all (the age, the loss, the negative maincharacter). To me the book is way too slow.
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Difficult, 10 July 2007
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This review is from: The Sea (Paperback)
I was intreagued by the storyline and the fact that it had won the Man Booker Prize, however, I have found it very difficult to get into, and although I hate doing so, have very guiltily given up on it. Too much prose and very slow.
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The Sea (Man Booker Prize)
The Sea (Man Booker Prize) by John Banville (Hardcover - Nov. 2005)
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