Metroland (Picador Books) Mass Market Paperback – 18 Mar 2005
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"Barnes writes like a dream." --Village Voice Literary Supplement
Paris, spring 1968. Christopher is fully occupied revelling in first lust. Just a short Métro ride away from les événements, as Toni never ceases to remind him. Winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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?
This is a very familiar story line and most people of my age - teenaged when university did not burden you with debt for life, and "youth" were expected to rebel - will find people and things they recognize.
While I can understand why this book is so highly regarded, one thing about it did really annoy me. The characters in the books use French phrases to talk to each other - secret codes that distance them from, or in their minds elevate them above, the masses.
Unfortunately the use of the French phrases in the book does the same thing to the reader - well it did I for me at least. While the meaning of some of the phrases can be deduced from how they are used, some cannot. As such, the joke remains on me, the poor dolt in 9C who never mastered French.
Did I enjoy the book? - well, yes I did.
Would I recommend the book - yes I would, but if your French is as limited as mine, you may find it just a wee bit annoying.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed his other books more, this one didn't deliver for me in the endPublished 8 months ago by Meredith
This was the second book I had read by Julian Barnes. Having loved The Sense of an Ending, I was attracted to this book by the synopsis but found it bitterly disappointing. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Daniel Day
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 timePublished on 28 Oct. 2013 by sisi18
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 on 6 May 2013 by EA Williams
Barnes' book doesn't have great highs and lows, action or even much of a story, however it remains engaging and thought provoking throughout. Read morePublished on 12 Dec. 2012 by A. Grieve
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 morePublished on 29 Nov. 2012 by C. Dawson
I love all Julian Barnes' books and this was no exception, I just wish there had been more of itPublished on 23 Nov. 2012 by Animalclare
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 morePublished on 26 July 2012 by Mr. F. I. Dudaniec