This short novel was the book chosen by my book club this month. I am doubly thankful for this. Firstly because it is an excellent novel and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and secondly as it is a book which sticks in the mind and prompts many questions which will benefit from discussion in a book group.
The title both references Frank Kermode’s book of the same name and also the intention of this novella – to explore how we make sense of our lives and the stories we create for ourselves. The title may also humourously allude to the feelings the reader may have on finishing the story.
As we expect from Julian Barnes, it is well written – dialogues are believable and uplifting, difficult and weighty topics are handled with ease and often with genuine humour, emotions are conveyed with accuracy and empathy. There are few writers who handle the English language this well.
Not wishing to spoil the story it is difficult to give much information. It concerns itself with life, love and memory, with yearning and regret. However, it touches on many, many things, as it is reported in the novel :-
“The things Literature was all about: love, sex, morality, friendship, happiness, suffering, betrayal, adultery, good and evil, heroes and villains, guilt and innocence, ambition, power, justice, revolution, war, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, the individual against society, success and failure, murder, suicide, death, God. And barn owls.”