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Julian Barnes was criticised when he wrote this book as it was considered lightweight. Certainly it is a departure from his normal work, but the criticism is totally unjust, as it deals with love and humn interaction, and there is no finer subject. This book tells a love story from the perspectives of people. Each chapter is in three parts, each told in the first person by the parties involved. Its a nice gimmick, and it works very well. The different viewpoints of the same events of telling, and often amusing. I wont go too much into the plot, as it is nicer to let it unfold as you read it, but it is about 3 friends, two of whom are a couple. They are close as people, but are very different. The method is storytelling especially brings this out, as each character talks to you individually. There are cracks in all the relationships, and they open and develop as the story progresses. Throughout this book Barnes shows a fine understanding of human character and emotion, and everyone who reads it will find resonance with their own lives. Each will have a favourite character to sympathise with. Talking It Over is a fine story, and an even better novel. Enjoy
Talking It Over tells the story of the tangled relationship between Stuart, Gillian and Oliver. The book is written as if the main characters, and a whole host of supporting actors, are being interviewed by an invisible writer. Each character takes it in turns to tell their side of the story, often conflicting strongly with what the others have to say. Stuart is a straightfoward, uncomplicated banker. What you see is what you get with Stuart, and he doesn't have a dishonest bone in his body. He can be just a little bit wet at times, though. Even when he behaves badly, he spends the next days, or weeks, brooding about it. From the outset, you just know he's going to have mishaps later on in the story. Gillian is probably the most sensible of the three. She's married to Stuart, and seems to enjoy the stability of marriage all the more for having come from a broken home. This, however, does not prevent her from behaving badly as the book progresses. She does have the decency to feel bad about this, and tries her best to sort things out. Oliver is Stuart's oldest friend. He's the most complicated character of the 3. On the one hand, he's arrogant, often pretentious and full of himself. Some would say full of verbal diarrheoa, even. On the other hand, he cuts a rather sad figure through most of the book. You get the feeling that most of that bluster is just for show. But when he behaves badly, he's just self-centred enough to think it either wasn't his fault, or that he hasn't done anything wrong. Without giving too much away about the plot, the book chronicles the constantly changing dynamics of the relationship between the 3 characters. Thrown in along the way is analysis of the relationship from such people as Gillian's mother and Val, an old friend, or maybe 'acquaintance' would be a better word, of Stuart and Oliver. This is a very well written book. I expect that which character gets the reader's sympathy vote probably varies from reader to reader. Julian Barnes does a great job of developing the characters, and you may well find yourself switching your allegiances from one to another as the story progresses. It's one of those books where you can't wait to get back to it to see what will happen next. A lot of the plot is fairly predictable, but there are enough subtle twists and surprises thrown in to keep you guessing. Highly recommended.
This account of love's vicissitudes begins as a comedy of misunderstanding, then slowly darkens and deepens, drawing the reader into the quagmires of the heart. The author also wrote Metroland, Before She Met Me, Flaubert's Parrot and A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters.