Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Fitbit

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
171
3.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£8.83+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 4 August 2016
I did not enjoy this book I'm afraid. To begin with I found it uninvolving, then came to thoroughly dislike the main character and be unconvinced by the other characters, except possibly his daughter.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 May 2017
Beautiful writing!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 April 2007
This was the first book of Banvilles that I have read (yes, I'm a slave to the Booker) but I found it enjoyable and exceptionally rewarding. In some ways this reminded me of Something Happened by Joseph Heller - the book was a tender description of his feelings for all but the last few pages when there is a dramatic event and then a revelation. Banville is a skilled writer, and the character of Max emerges complete - the way that the other characters sometime appear to be half-formed reflects the way we sometimes review the past.

I especially enjoyed the way that he wedded the past to the recent present, interweaving recollections about the two women he had loved, though one got the sense it was the ghost of the past to whom he felt the most attachment.

The beauty of the book was added to by the deployment of a rich vocabulary - it was a real feast of adjectives - that didn't smother the book but helped to heighten the tenderness Max felt for his past. Whilst it is true that there isn't much meat to this slender volume, Banville has created a fragile story that reflects the nature of the love he writes about.

It is easy to see why this book stood out to the Booker judges - it is essentially a dissertation of feeling rather than a dramtic love story. This is a book that is definitely worth investigating, though not if you enjoy a big plot and plenty of action.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Sea will either delight or aggravate you. Some may experience both reactions.
The delight will come from finding a surprising word choice or unexpected detail on almost every page, the unusual development of the plot and the rapid shifts between thought, memory, perception, desire, musing and reflection. For some, the fresh descriptions of male sexual awakening will also be sweet.
The aggravation will come from realizing that the story could have been told more directly. You will also feel yourself being manipulated quite often. The word choices could have been more direct. The surprises on each page become almost mechanical after awhile. Deal with the aggravation is my advice. Otherwise, you'll miss the chance to see how often you jump to unwarranted conclusions. Reading this novel is like holding up a mirror to see your mind's perceptions and prejudices.
You won't realize much of the book's power until you're done. If you are like me, you'll immediately want to read it again.
The story takes place while Max Morden recovers emotionally from his wife's untimely death from a wasting illness. Uncharacteristically, Morden avoids family and friends to be quite alone most of the day while staying in a run-down rooming house where he experienced many delights as a youngster. Being there brings up many memories of the Grace family . . . surely a metaphor for inspiration in this lover of Bonnard. You'll find yourself drawn into those long-ago memories as well as Morden's unhappy reaction to his wife's loss. But you'll also know that there's an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Gradually, all will become clear through the mental peregrinations of Morden.
I don't remember stream of consciousness done in sentences in quite as interesting a way as Mr. Banville achieves. All aspiring novelists must read this book!
Here's an example of Mr. Banville's power to evoke irony:
"There are other things I can do. . . . Or I might retire into a monastery to pass my days in quiet contemplation of the infinite, or write a great treatise there, a vulgate of the dead. I can see myself in my cell, long-bearded, with quill-pen and hat and docile lion, through a window beside me minuscule peasants in the distance making hay, and hovering above my brow the dove refulgent. Oh yes, life is pregnant with possibilities."
Enjoy this original and provocative work.
0Comment| 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It did not revolutionise my understanding of the `the novel'; it did not effect my perception of any history, society or geography; it has not changed my life - and I doubt it will; it is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have read. This is such luxurious prose that you can feel it wrapping you up in its stimuli. When reading, your senses seem elevated: I could smell the sea on the drizzle that fell on my face as I stepped off the bus (in London) after reading a twenty-page chunk; I could feel the burn of the brandy in the back of my throat as the narrator drank, and I could feel the sun burning through my eyelids the morning after; no matter what I played on my iPod whilst reading, all I could hear was Vaughan Williams' The Sea.

The plot is just satisfying enough, but it is more a vehicle for Banville's writing which satisfies so much deeper than any plot - this is prose that evokes the poetry of Heaney and Hughes and touches your core, causing your senses and emotions to soar with only the power of a twelve-word sentence.

This book fully deserves the recognition that I doubt it would have received without the Booker.
33 Comments| 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 July 2006
A middle-aged man, Max Morden, returns to a seaside village, a place from his childhood, in a journey of memories following the death of his wife. As the story develops, many secrets unfold, in a dramatic story of life and death and a disclosure that completely changes Max's perception of the events that took place.

The stunning feature of the book is Banville's writing. It is intensely poetic. It is filled with images and nuances. From every word is squeezed the last drop of meaning, suggestion and emotion. With few fragments of reported speech and little quotations, there is no dialogue. Instead we have a soliloquy that conveys the thoughts, feelings and memories of a man coming to terms with bereavement and death.

Don't expect a fast-paced action story. This is a beautiful book, a work of art in which the stories interweave and the scenes are described at a pace that lets them breathe as we are drawn deeply into Max's troubling and painful world. Even through this, there is a sense of optimism and rebirth: the novel is aptly named, for the sea was there at the beginning, will wash clean, and will be there at the end.
0Comment| 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 November 2008
This is my first Banville, and I take the point made by several other reviewers that it's probably a more rewarding experience to read 'The Sea' after some of his earlier work, so as to familiarise oneself with his style.
And this is the great pivotal point- his style. I think it has a real Marmite factor- love it or hate it, or in fact some combination of the two. At times, I found myself nodding appreciatively with how powerful his vignettes were- for example, the kiss in the cinema, the hairwashing scene and the part where the main character flips out while watching a nature documentary (none of these are spoilers, by the way). But an equal number of times I clocked myself shaking my head in annoyance with how deliberate, artful and writerly his prose is. People speak of his writing as being like poetry, but isn't that a genre category error? We're reading a novel here, aren't we? And call me conventional, but bedecking virtually every single sentence with some kind of simile doesn't do much for pacing or plot.
Overall, if you like impressionistic, modernist literature in the tradition of Virginia Woolf, and you prefer reflections, feelings and sensations, then you will love this. As an oblique discussion on the isolating nature of grief it's compelling. On the other hand, if you like highly developed and intriguing plotting, three-dimensional and sympathetic characterisation, some appreciation of motive and real relationships, then forget it. To be honest, the increasing misanthropy and solipsism of the main character started to really grate on me. He seemed to barely regard other people as actual entities, and only functions in his own tortured process of recollection, regret and despair.

A much better book is the similarly titled 'The Sea, the Sea' by Iris Murdoch, which also won the Booker prize, and is also about a writer confronting his past as it collides with his present.
11 Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Sea will either delight or aggravate you. Some may experience both reactions.
The delight will come from finding a surprising word choice or unexpected detail on almost every page, the unusual development of the plot and the rapid shifts between thought, memory, perception, desire, musing and reflection. For some, the fresh descriptions of male sexual awakening will also be sweet.
The aggravation will come from realizing that the story could have been told more directly. You will also feel yourself being manipulated quite often. The word choices could have been more direct. The surprises on each page become almost mechanical after awhile. Deal with the aggravation is my advice. Otherwise, you'll miss the chance to see how often you jump to unwarranted conclusions. Reading this novel is like holding up a mirror to see your mind's perceptions and prejudices.
You won't realize much of the book's power until you're done. If you are like me, you'll immediately want to read it again.
The story takes place while Max Morden recovers emotionally from his wife's untimely death from a wasting illness. Uncharacteristically, Morden avoids family and friends to be quite alone most of the day while staying in a run-down rooming house where he experienced many delights as a youngster. Being there brings up many memories of the Grace family . . . surely a metaphor for inspiration in this lover of Bonnard. You'll find yourself drawn into those long-ago memories as well as Morden's unhappy reaction to his wife's loss. But you'll also know that there's an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Gradually, all will become clear through the mental peregrinations of Morden.
I don't remember stream of consciousness done in sentences in quite as interesting a way as Mr. Banville achieves. All aspiring novelists must read this book!
Here's an example of Mr. Banville's power to evoke irony:
"There are other things I can do. . . . Or I might retire into a monastery to pass my days in quiet contemplation of the infinite, or write a great treatise there, a vulgate of the dead. I can see myself in my cell, long-bearded, with quill-pen and hat and docile lion, through a window beside me minuscule peasants in the distance making hay, and hovering above my brow the dove refulgent. Oh yes, life is pregnant with possibilities."
Enjoy this original and provocative work.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 April 2017
This is the first book I have read by Banville and would happily read his work again. This is a nicely paced novel, that has an element of darkness and mystery running through it that gives us an unsettling and compelling feel that makes it quite hard to put down at times. Some of his description is simply beautiful and really evokes the spirit and feel of his curious seaside location. This is a dark, curious and ultimately fulfilling book that gives us some valid and substantial insights into life, death, love, memory and childhood and even raises a few laughs along the way.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 February 2013
It is important in a novel to keep the reader interested enough to keep reading while aspects of the human condition are considered. This book fails to do this because the author seems to be less interested in telling a story than in showing off his extensive vocabulary in various unusual combinations , eg 'flocculent hush'. What exactly would that be? For a more compelling take on the relationships between child and adult experiences in I would recommend 'The Heather Blazing' by Colm Tiobin.
I enjoy poetry , but not when it completely bogs down a novel and is impenetrable in meaning.
I find Banville's Benjamin Black crime novels quite poetic enough and have enjoyed them much more.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse


Need customer service? Click here