Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Sea by John Banville


Max Morden has returned to the small village where his family spent seaside holidays.  His wife has recently died and it has left him pensive and prone to remembering older days.  He finds a boarding house and settles in.

But this is not just any boarding house.  It is the house of the family that he obsessed over one summer holiday.  The Grace family consisted of the extroverted yet sly father, the enigmatic mother and the twins, Chloe and Myles.  The mother was the first woman that Max fell in love with and he mooned over her for a while.  When his obsession was done, he instead was attracted to Chloe, who was his age and who shared his interest.  As he looks back on that summer, he realizes that he has always feared being left behind.

This novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2005.  Banville's writing seems quiet and reserved yet it eventually lands a big punch.  This novel follows that pattern with a big reveal coming at the end.  The author's description of environments places the reader squarely in a small English seaside village and his retelling of his first loves will strike a reminiscence in most readers of their own first crushes.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and is lovely.

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