Sea, the Sea Paperback – 31 Jul 1980
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"Dazzlingly entertaining and inventive" The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Intricate detail and plot; Charles, who at first appears merely pompous and conceited, is soon obviously a monster. For me, this is balanced by the portrait of his amiable cousin James, who also has hidden depths; the incident of the tulpa will give you goosebumps.
A glorious mix of characters, from banal to fascinating, tragic to complacent. Incidents varying from the everyday to the occult; dramatic to 'world of celebrity' but even the latter is never boring.
I've been reading this book for years; I'm just re-reading it again as I've bought a replacement after my old copy fell to bits (I seem to be saying this a lot lately) but to me that's a test of a good book. Every time I revisit old scenes with pleasure and always discover some new aspect.
Like another reviewer, I too feel cynical about Booker Prize hype; 'The Sea, The Sea' in my opinion, is far too good for the Booker.
The only details I can't stomach are Charles's dreadful cooking ...
I could not put this book down. The direct narrative style works very well and I really thought the central character, Charles Arrowby, was talking to me. He has just retired to a remote clifftop house and is self-centred, conceited and completely obsessed with his first love, who, he has just discovered, is living nearby.
He is by some way the least attractive person in the book, but this is compensated by an array of interesting friends and ex-lovers, many over-the-top, some camp, but all providing a great deal of humour. With the(unrecognised) help of his cousin, James, a retired general and a Buddhist, he gradually recognises his obsession for what it is and he emerges from his ordeal a more-benevolent "uncle" figure.
This is a great story, operating at two levels: as romantic narrative literature and as a philosophical examination of Charles' chaotic mind.
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