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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 14 August 2006
THE SEA is an absolutely fantastic book, a tragic but beautiful short novel.Written in a rich but clear language, it takes the reader through a breath-taking journey that climaxes to a satisfying and surprising conclusion.Like all true great books, THE SEA is a novel you enjoy all the more as you read it again and again a couple of times.As gripping as NIGHT, far-reaching as USURPER AND OTHER STORIES,sobering as KITE RUNNER and deaspairingly hopeful as THE UNION MOUJIK, the story of THE SEA will stick in your mind long after you read it.
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on 3 June 2006
Reviewers have raved about the style of this novel. Well, it's certainly rich in vocabulary (frankly, it's pompous and pretentious) and equally rich in allusion (I might briefly mention Joyce, 'Great Expectations', Greek myth etc) but ultimately this novel fails to satisfy.

"Oh dear me the novel tells a story." But the problem is there's not much to the story here, and the usual post-modern 'frame' just doesn't work here. Of course, it's all done in a highly symbolic way (even peeling bananas is, I kid you not, symbolic here) and there's lots of coming of age type nonsense (snogging in the cinema, all done before) but it's a real effort to wade through much of this.

Banville clearly is a talented writer, with a fine ear for the music of his sentences, but somewhere along the lines convincing story and genuine emotion have been abandoned.

Try it - it might work for you. It did for me in places but ultimately I was disappointed.
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on 18 November 2006
This is the best book I've read for a long time. It's a gentle reflective book with a good story line and a bit of a twist at the end. It's strength lies in John Banville's amazing ability to describe situations and emotions in a way that really rings true. Wonderful descriptive prose and an absolute joy to read.
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on 12 June 2006
Max Morden is a not very accomplished art historian who has gone into retreat in a holiday home that he knew when he was young: the Cedars in de seaside resort Ballyless. There he contemplates several events that have changed his life: the recent loss of his beloved wife and another loss that occurred in his youth when holidaying in Ballyless. Max has all the time in the world and this becomes clear from the way in which this book is written: beautiful prose, but slightly archaic. You really have to work to read this book and in the end the outcomes are not terribly surprising. 4 stars for the prose, but 3 stars when also taking the actual story into consideration.
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on 31 October 2008
I was really looking forward to reading this book as it was a man booker prize winner and I have always been an avid reader of the runners up and winners and usually been impressed. Sadly I was disappointed. I felt JB concentrated more on the lengthy chunks of prose, describing things in great detail with a plot as an afterthought. His prose was like poetry and some of it very beautiful. The plot had a bizarre twist and was trying to compete with an 'Ian McEwan'type novel. Together it just did not work. Well written but not well crafted.
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on 8 December 2007
I haven't read anything else by this author but in this book I felt like he was just trying to impress me by using esoteric words. Why use a perfectly normal short word when an unpronouncable lengthy one is available?! I persevered as I was sure the turgid language would reveal an amazing conclusion. It didn't. The premise was quite ridiculous and I couldn't feel any sympathy for this self-indulgent and rather boring, selfish character. If I met "Max" at a party I'd run screaming in the opposite direction (or swiftly down a whole bottle of vodka).

I'm kicking myself that I devoted hours of my life to reading this dreary book in the anticipation I'd be glad I'd done so when I had finished. WRONG. If this is typical of a Booker prize winner I won't bother reading another one. Yawn.
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on 27 October 2016
very boring Content not very interesting at all. language good
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on 19 October 2007
I had to motivate myself to keep reading. Glad I perservered though as the closing pages did an excellent job in helping me to finally understand the whole story! It is actually a beautifully written story about love, loss and the strange powers of grief. As already mentioned the language is almost poetic sometimes and I found myself reaching for a dictionary more than once.
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on 14 October 2015
Beautifully written. Just draws you in with it's imagery.
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on 24 April 2007
I found this book highly enjoyable to read. It's a slim but dense volume that takes you deep inside the narrator's heart and mind. Although I found the ending puzzling, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a literary read.

It's a relief to know that not only does good writing still exist but it can also shift units.
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