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4.2 out of 5 stars
6
4.2 out of 5 stars
The Newton Letter (Revolutions Trilogy)
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on 28 September 2017
Perfect
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on 2 July 2000
After his books on Copernicus and Kepler John Banville's "The Newton Letter" is about the gulf between the scientific and the emotional-the rational and the irrational. A writer, writing a biography of Newton, spends a summer on a farm to finish his book. He becomes involved with the family who own the farm: a perfectly ordinary family with an ordinary "secret", but so unused to the world of the emotions is he that he finds them fascinating and exotic. He has an affair with one of them, and falls in love with another although he knows nothing about her. He blunders about in the dark: just like a medieval astronomer trying to make sense of a universe whose rules he has no idea of. And, like Newton, he has a breakdown - tortured, as Newton was, by the understanding that his work is not adequate to explain the world. People keep telling him he knows nothing about what's going on under his nose but only at the end does he realise how true this is. This is a beautifully written book - I can't think of another British writer who writes so well. I loved the opening sentence: "Words fail me..."- a teasing way to start a novel: an art form that is nothing without words.
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on 11 October 2017
Rather reminiscent of Edna O'Brien, this un-named narrator rents a dilapidated lodge in rural Ireland in order to work on his book and try to decipher a letter of Isaac Newton.

He becomes drawn into the family who live in the big house, starting an affair with Ottilie whilst lusting after married Charlotte. His work dwindles to a halt as he becomes more entangled with them.

Apparently the third book in a trilogy, though the previous two I believe were set in Newton's time, so I didn't feel I'd missed out by not reading them before.
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on 16 May 2014
One of his best works short but perfectly formed couldn't put it down till finished.
A great starter for anyone who hasn't read Banville.
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on 16 January 2015
i did not like it as much as his other work
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on 2 January 2016
The book was in good condition and arrived promptly. It is a splendid early work by Banville now out of print. It captures the melancholy of a disappearing Ireland rooted in timeless relationships and landscape.
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