Titel: Love, Etc.
Verlag: Alfred A. Knopf
Einband: Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included
Auflage: 1st Edition
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In matters of love and friendship, how much can be endured? What might be forgiven? And who—given the inevitable, knotty complications—is desirable still?
From such questions, and using all the surprising, sophisticated ingredients of a delightful farce, Julian Barnes has created a tragicomedy of human frailties and needs. Love, etc. stars three characters introduced a decade ago in Talking It Over—to which this novel has an eerie, freestanding relation. Which is precisely how Stuart feels toward Gillian, his wife before his witty, feckless, former best friend Oliver stole her away. True, he did make a fuss at their subsequent wedding, and spied on them in their French village; but he was agreeable about the divorce, moved to America, remarried briefly, prospered, then returned to London shortly after Oliver and Gillian, avec les enfants, did.
Meanwhile, Oliver’s artistic ambitions have turned to ashes in his mouth, so it’s Gillian supporting the household—until Stuart rejoins them.
What transpires to further complicate the situation doesn’t bear repeating, especially as the three principals (along with many others) are allowed to speak directly to the reader, to whisper their secrets and argue their own particular versions of what actually happened, and why. Indeed, emerging from this crux are a number of truths we all live by: faith and generosity, trust and commitment, toward ourselves and our loved ones; or, absent those, banality and even brutality.
Every bit as funny and intelligent as anything Julian Barnes has written, Love, etc. is also fabulously engaging, powerfully dramatic, and profoundly unsettling.
Oliver, Stuart, and Gillian have been friends and lovers. But it's been 10 years since this backbiting trio, which Julian Barnes first introduced in Talking It Over, last met--and a lot has changed. For starters, Oliver has married Gillian, and Stuart, his erstwhile best friend, hates him for it. Not just because Stuart was once married to Gillian, but because he still loves her and has never ceased to regard himself as her savior. Under the guise of repairing old friendships--"all blood under the bridge"--this mild-mannered third wheel insinuates himself into the couple's life by offering advice, providing support, and even giving Oliver a job. Once he's maneuvered his nemesis into a crippling depression, Stuart unveils his master plan.
In Love, Etc. Barnes adopts the same technique he used in the earlier installment, allowing his characters to speak their innermost thoughts and secrets directly to the reader--and just about everybody gets some good lines. (Oliver: "Yes, everything went swimmingly, which is a very peculiar adverb to apply to a social event, considering how most human beings swim.") But the book is also a bewitchingly intimate excursion into betrayal and jealousy. With painstaking detail, Barnes creates a vibrant portrait of a modern love triangle--as funny as it is cruel, as absurd as it is deep. Few contemporary writers can portray Middle England, with all its temptations, so darkly. --Matthew Baylis
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