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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 22 August 2011
What a great collection of short stories - all excellent - each looking at some aspect of growing older.

My favourites -

Knowing French - letters from an old lady in an old people's home - she writes to Julian Barnes himself, and although we do not see his side of the correspondence, it is obvious that he does write back, and even contacts the home when the letters stop arriving.

The Silence - an unnamed composer is reminiscing about his life - fascinating - with little snippets of facts about him that had me doing some research later to find out who it was, which was fun. (A composer I don't know well, I won't disclose who it is in case you want to have the fun of doing the same!)

Bravo Julian Barnes - excellent!
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VINE VOICEon 27 May 2011
Julian Barnes's collection of stories in this volume is the usual mix you tend to find in short story selections. The theme running through the book is death and decay, which binds the stories together well, but overall - inevitably - some efforts work better than others.

There's no doubting Barnes's ability to construct interesting stories and tell them well; but a few here come over as slightly too clever by half, or perhaps slight ideas that never really get going. The characters and plotting are impeccibly done, and the message about death tends to waver between inevitable, sad decline and fall, and a rather more optimistic and upbeat take on the natural ageing process. The very last story in the book, "The Silence", reminded me strongly of something that David Mitchell has written about, based as it is on a composer looking back on his life and achievements - strongly reminding me of themes he explored in Cloud Atlas.

As other Amazon reviwers have mentioned, the significance of the Lemon is explained as being the Chinese symbol of death, so it's a fitting umbrella term underwhich to have collected these stories. More accessible and enjoyable than I was expecting, the short story form still remains (for me), something that can entertain and delight on occasions, and simply fall flat on its face on others. This collection is no exception.
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on 12 November 2012
.....to see such a marked contrast between this collection of stories. Quite how JB writes so easily about the concept of aging is quite beyond me.
A great book to read after 'Nothing to be frightened of'; you'll have become accustomed to the darker side of humour by then. And hugely entertaining!

Andrew.
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VINE VOICEon 19 February 2013
These stories go by quite quickly. Some are a bit arch, but others are funny and slightly melancholy. I enjoy Julian Barnes's style. One or two were surprising. He's a good chronicler of English contemporary life, and I enjoy his 'morbid mind'.
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on 21 May 2016
I should have read the reviews more carefully but I honestly wish that I had never started on this book. I was expecting a collection of short stories, written by a writer whose work in the past I have always enjoyed reading. Having previously only read novels by Julian Barnes I was looking forward to seeing how his collection of short stories would come over. I abandoned the book about a third of the way in because it made me feel utterly miserable. Many of the sentiments expressed were unnecessarily spiteful and very bitter. It is not fair to assume that bitterness is a natural trait of the ageing process and is certainly not humorous to portray old age in this way.
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on 3 July 2015
In The Lemon Table Julian Barnes in a series of short stories writes about getting older and most of the time grumpier. The problem with the stories that they are just a bit too mundane to carry the readers interest. There a few moments in the book that are worthwhile, notably a musing on a late "love affair" of Turgenev and the titular endpoint about Sibelius' last times, which is great. But for two or three short good pieces in a book of 200 pages it is a bit disappointing.
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HALL OF FAMEon 9 December 2004
I am writing this little squib to call attention for those of you music-lovers who may read my and others' reviews of classical music CDs to the story 'Vigilance.' It is a hilarious and ultimately unsettling story of a Londoner who has made it his life's work to shame and quiet those people at classical music concerts at the Barbican, Festival Hall and the Royal Albert who cough during performances. One initially sympathizes with his irritation but becomes more and more aware that his bête noire has made him just the least little bit unhinged.
One can also add a commendation for what is probably the best story here, praised liberally by press reviewers, 'Knowing French.' Barnes is a superbly informed, superbly polished writer whose works have never one word too many and are very much worth getting to know.
Scott Morrison
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on 15 December 2014
I don't usually enjoy short stories but this collection has been a joy to read. It would make a brilliant gift for anyone who enjoys nostalgia. I especially enjoyed the hairdressing scenario and the tale of the old folkery.
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on 11 March 2014
I am old enough to appreciate the kind of cynical humour in it as well as tragicomic elements. I don't consider it obscene the way some other people, whose communication is full of taboo words, do.
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on 7 October 2014
Beautiful author. The short stories are good and varied. So far I have just wished they were longer. Arrived on time excellent condition.
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