Download PDF The Sea Author John Banville –

Download PDF  The Sea Author John Banville – ❮Download❯ ➼ The Sea ➾ Author John Banville – In this luminous new novel about love loss and the unpredictable power of memory John Banville introduces us to Max Morden a middle aged Irishman who has gone back to the seaside town where he spent h In this luminous new novel about love loss and the unpredictable power of memory John Banville introduces us to Max Morden a middle aged Irishman who has gone back to The Seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child to cope with the recent loss of his wife It is also a return to the place where he met the Graces the well heeled family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time What Max comes to understand about the past and about its indelible effects on him is at the center of this elegiac gorgeously written novel among the finest we have had from this masterful writer.

10 thoughts on “The Sea

  1. Trisha Trisha says:

    I think there's a big difference between literature and fiction and this book is a perfect example as is obvious from the number of negative reviews posted on this website Some books can be read purely for their entertainment value We like reading them because the plots and settings and characters capture our interest That's what fiction does But some books provide an additional dimension for readers who are willing to put a little time and thought into what they are reading and who enjoy digging a little deeper below the plot line to think about the things that motivate the characters to behave the way they do Those of us who who are looking for than plot and characterization in a good book tend to be intrigued by the way authors use language and amazingly enough we actually enjoy discovering new words even though it means looking them up in a dictionary Banville's writing is going to be lost on a lot of readers because it's much than a work of fiction But for the rest of us it's a great example of why we love to read in the first placeit's because we love to see our language used so beautifully in the hands of a writer who has such deep insights into some of the great themes that good literature has always dealt with This is one of those books It's a profound reflection on lovelossregret and the role memory plays in the grieving process Those who love to read because they enjoy thinking about the insights to be found in books that are beautifully written will most likely love this book Obviously not everyone reads for that reason which is fine for thembut for the rest of us it's easy to see why Banville is considered such a fine writer

  2. Jaline Jaline says:

    John Banville won the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for this novel and what a well deserved honour and tribute for this masterfully written poignant and deeply moving storyI read somewhere that John Banville is considered “a writer’s writer” I can definitely see that On the other hand he is also “a reader’s writer” because I am a reader and thousands of other readers have also enjoyed Mr Banville’s writingThis is Max Morden’s story and he narrates throughout Seamlessly we follow him along as he talks about boyhood summers somewhere on the South coast of Ireland He refers to a nearby town as Bally and the summer spot as a nearby village let’s call it Ballyless In the present he is in mourning and having a difficult time dealing with his grief He drinks too much ignores his work and is intent on seeking some answers or something he can hang onto from his past summers when he was youngWe meet the Grace family Carlo Connie their children Chloe and Myles and their minder or perhaps governess Rose This family is perceived by Max as his social superiors but he is drawn to them for many reasons – partly curiosity partly out of loneliness and somewhat out of boredom The Graces fascinate him especially noticeable while he relates his experiences with them as a boy However with all the time that has passed between then and now their once large summer home has become a boarding house and he seeks it out to stay in and perhaps looks to his past to help him healAs Max relates his story moving back and forth between then and now it is clear that his past influenced his future and that his ‘now’ is also very much influencing how he views his past He argues with himself chastising himself at times for not being clear about a point Sometimes he will make the point again – the same point using different words Sometimes he corrects his course in the narrative with an addition that makes it clearer Sometimes he says he is digressing too far or embellishing so scratch that and this is how it was Of course once it is stated it’s not easy nor is it prudent to forget it and buy in completely to the new perspectiveThis is not a long book although it definitely is not one to attempt to rush through The author sets the pace takes control of this story and doesn’t let it go for a moment I was a very willing passenger on this journey with Max and there were times that something he said startled my own past memories into my reading experience Countless times I had to set the book down and indulge in my own personal reveries In most respects they weren’t connected to the story except by a small filament of invisible thread yet once the thread was pulled into my sight I had no choice but to follow itOh And the words I wanted to mention the words – some of them I had to jot down because I might need them some day for a game like when you have a whole slew of vowels – etiolate could be most helpful or maybe just because certain words add clarity to what might be a watery picture without them This novel is a masterpiece of words used exactly as they should be precisely when they need to beI had several uotes highlighted that I especially savoured and then I changed my mind about adding them to my review Please please read this exceptional novel and discover them for yourself Of one thing I am certain each person will come away with their own reveries their own captured words and the phrases and sentences that moved them the mostI recommend this to everyone who has ever danced with words andor read a wonderful story composed of them and a reminder that this is a slow waltz one that you will always remember

  3. Cecily Cecily says:

    Ah the sea especially the smell of the sea a phrase as familiar as the idea that aromas have a visceral power to exhume memories we didn’t know we had ever had and lost Smells of all sorts permeate the pages of this book and waft up creating a synaesthetic connection to people and places in Max’s life My second hand paper book added a medley of vague aromas of its own Not something to read on Kindle though for me nothing is Scents This is an intensely sensual book but not in the usual sense It’s about the power of one of the senses smell in the context of bereaved reminiscence Max freuently mentions the smell of things Not all are pleasant but they colour his memories in a profound way Smell and taste are interdependent Unlike the other senses it’s almost impossible to describe them except in comparison with other smells and tastes hence wines with undertones of apricot accents of peat and aftertaste of daisies I think it’s also why it's so difficult to remember let alone imagine smells at will One's mind's eye and ear are so much biddable Even touch is easier to recall and describe Banville prompted me to to try though Sit or lie somewhere comfortable uiet and dark Touch is easy start by noticing what you can actually feel the curve of the chair the fabric and seams of your clothes the warmth of the sun on your skin Then remember or imagine touches the shrill blast of a strong salt sea breeze on your face stroking the soft silky fur of a cat the abrasion of warm wet sand between your toes Now add sights and sounds the view of the ocean and howl of the wind the purring of the inscrutable black cat the colour of the sand and the hiss of the waves coming down on it You can see and hear and feel it all But smell and taste? Much harder Think of a favourite food siu mai You can see it you can feel its texture and hear the sound as you bite into it But can you describe let alone experience its taste and smell? Maybe it’s precisely because smells don’t readily convert to similes and metaphors that they are such powerful triggers? Back to the book Narrators Banville Morden Cleave? “ We sought to escape from an intolerable present in the only tense possible the past”Max Morden is barely distinguishable from Alex Cleave in the Eclipse Shroud Ancient Light trilogy Ancient Light reviewed HERE who is apparently rather similar to Banville Max and Alex narrate in exactly the same rambling occasionally introspective self centred curmudgeonly largely guilt free and invariably misogynistic voice The writing is sweet and sour And beautiful Fluency disguises an underlying inarticulacy in the face of recent and ancient tragedies where “the cruel complacency of ordinary things” is epitomised by “tight lipped awkwardness” of furniture and for the people involved “From this day forward all would be dissembling There would be no other way to live with death” Even the land is inarticulate “Marsh and mud flats where everything seemed turned away from the land looking desperately towards the horizon as if in mute search for a sign of rescue” And web toed Myles is literally mute “Being alone with Myles was like being in a room which someone had just violently left His muteness was a pervasive and cloying emanation” Both narrators are forever uestioning their own motives and pointing out the inconsistencies of their memories “It has all begun to run together past and possible future and impossible present” As an art historian Max is familiar with touching up portraits “Memories are always eager to match themselves seamlessly to the things and places of a revisited past” Alex and especially Max are trying to write They both have a problematic daughter referred to by two names beginning with C Both had or fantasised about a youthful relationship with a mother figure the similarly named Mrs Grace and Mrs Gray And in this case the inadvertent temptress even offers him an apple Most importantly both have past and present tragedies and revisit the former to understand and cope with the latter The ending is rushed too many events and revelations and I do not like Max or Alex to the extent I almost wonder why I like these books “With women wait long enough and one will have one’s way” and his reveries are “in the unvarying form of pursuit and capture and violent overmastering” Nevertheless Banville’s skill is such that I have some sympathy for them and I want to know their stories uotes Smells “My daughter usually has no smell at all” unlike her mother “whose feral reek for me the stewy fragrance of life itself and which the strongest perfume could not uite suppress was the thing that first drew me to her” “In her last months she smelt at her best of pharmacopoeia” “The cool thick secret smell of milk made me think of Mrs Grace” “A mingled smell of spilt beer and stale cigarette smoke” “As I was heaving myself over in a tangle of sheets I caught a whiff of my own warm cheesy smell” “She smelled of sweat and cold cream and faintly of cooking fat” “A whiff of her sweat dampened civet scent” “Her milk and vinegar smell” “Little animals we were sniffing at each other I liked in particular the cheesy tang in the crevices of her elbows and knees In general she gave off a flattish fawnish odour like that which comes out of which used to come out of empty biscuit tins in shop” Recently bereaved new places are “like a wedding suit smelling of moth balls and no longer fitting” “Peppermints the faint sickly smell of which pervades the house” “The suat black gas stove sullen in its corner and smelling of the previous lodger’s fried dinners” “The smell in the hall was like the smell of my breath when I breathed and rebreathed it into my cupped hands” “Smells of exhaust smoke the sea the garden’s autumn rot” Railway “giving off its mephtic whiff of ash and gas” In a tree “at this height the breeze smelling of inland things earth and smoke and animals” An abandoned beach hut “smelling of old urine” On the point of death “her breath gave off a mild dry stink as of withered flowers” uotes Sea The waves clawed at the suave sand along the waterline scrabbling to hold their ground but steadily failing “Lead blue and malignantly agleam” A white seabird dazzling against the wall of cloud flew up on sickle wings and turned with a soundless snap and plunged itself a shutting chevron into the sea's unruly back “The seabirds rose and dived like torn scraps of rag” “The salt sharpened light” “By the sea there is a special uality to the silence at night It is like the silence that I knew in the sickrooms of my childhood It is a place like the place where I feel that I am now miles from anywhere and anyone” “Hearing the monotonously repeated ragged collapse of waves down on the beach” uotes Memories Aging Past Future “The past beats inside me like a second heart” “I have been elbowed aside by a parody of myself” “These days I must take the world in small and carefully measured doses it is a sort of homeopathic cure Perhaps I am learning to live amongst the living again But no that’s not it Being here is just a way of not being anywhere” “The image that I hold of her in my head is fraying bits of pigment flakes of gold leaf are chipping off” “Happiness was different in childhood a matter of simple accumulation of taking things and applying them like so many polished tiles to what would someday be the marvellously finished pavilion of the self” uotes Other To be concealed protected guarded that is all I have ever truly wanted to burrow down into a place of womby warmth and cower there hidden from the sky's indifferent gaze and the harsh air's damagings “Rust has reduced its struts to a tremulous filigree” A gate The wink of a new neighbour “jaunty intimate and faintly satanic” “The smile she reserved for him husband sceptical tolerant languidly amused” “The chalet that we rented was a slightly less than life sized wooden model of a house” Father returns “in a wordless fury bearing the fruits of his day like so much luggage clutched in his clenched fists” “Their unhappiness was one of the constants of my earliest years a high unceasing buzz just beyond hearing I loved them probably Only they were in my way obscuring my view of the future In time I would be able to see right through them my transparent parents” “Even from inside the car we could hear the palms on the lawn in from dreamily clacking their dry fronds” “Despite the glacial air a muted hint of past carousings lingered” “Beyond the smouldering sunlight there is the placid gloom of indoors” “Perhaps all life is no than a long preparation for the leaving of it” “Light of summer thick as honey fell from the tall windows and glowed on the figured carpets” “That fretful dry papery rustle that harbinges autumn” “The Godhead for me was a menace and I responded with fear and its inevitable concomitant guilt” But that’s as a child “Devout as holy drinkers dipped our faces towards each other I tasted her urgent breath” “It was as if the evening in all the drench and drip of its fallacious pathos had temporarily taken over from me the burden of grieving” “The open doorway from which a fat slab of sunlight lay fallen at our feet Now and then a breeze from outside would wander in absent mindedly” For even at such a tender age I knew there is always a lover and a loved and knew which one in this case I would be” “A series of or less enraptured humiliations She accepted me as a supplicant at her shrine with disconcerting complacency Her willful vagueness tormented and infuriated me” “Is this not the secret aim of all of us to be no longer flesh but transformed utterly into the gossamer of unsuffering spirit?” “A chintz covered sofa sprawls as if aghast its two arms flung wide and cushions sagging Piano its lid shut stands against the back wall as if in tight lipped resentment of its gaudy rival opposite” “The canned audience doing our laughing for us” “The polished pewter light of the emptied afternoon”“The copper coloured light of the late autumn evening” “Puddles on the road that now were paler than the sky as if the last of day were dying in them” “Drowning is the gentlest death” See Also The Sea The SeaI was strongly reminded of this Banville book and also his Ancient Light when I read Iris Murdoch's one from 30 years earlier the title setting the narrator's character and introspection See my review HERE Banville is lyrical slightly less philosophical and Morden less unpleasant Image source of nose sculpture on a beach at Colmslie Beach Reserve in Brisbane Originally recommended by Dolors in relation to The Sense of an Ending Her review of this is here

  4. BlackOxford BlackOxford says:

    The Depths of VocabularyJohn Banville loves words just as they are Words like losel and finical gleet scurf bosky cinerial and merd that will really screw up your spell checker It's part of his masterful charm Add his ability to put these words together in velvet sentences and combine sentences into exuisite narrative and voila a writer worth his saltas it were especially with a title like The Sea Inspired by Henry James? Very possibly particularly by The Turn of the Screw and its permanent mystery Nonetheless uniuely and unmistakeably Banville

  5. Robin Robin says:

    Nude in the Bath and Small Dog Pierre Bonnard 1941 46What has this luminous painting of a female bather to do with a book called The Sea you might ask? More than you might think Pierre Bonnard a French Post Impressionist painter often painted his wife Marthe He painted this particular piece when she was in her 70s and she had died by the time he completed it We can see by virtue of the recognisable images of female form and bathtub the general gist of the painting But the image goes beyond the bounds of reality with the misshapen bathtub that accommodates impossibly long and bent limbs the colours shimmering and waving on the organically undulating walls as though they might just disappear at any moment a dog on what might be a mat or a suare of light on the slanted floor brushstroke after gorgeous brushstroke coming together to simulate Marthe's moment of private repose The moment is almost certainly of a younger Marthe though It is the artist's memories of an earlier youthful moment There is a formula which fits painting perfectly wrote Bonnard many little lies to create a great truthNot only is the narrator of this novella Max Morden attempting to write a book about Bonnard not only did Max's own wife during her painful decline enjoy the silent comfort of baths but like Bonnard he is trying to cobble together an image one of his wife and his life looking back as an aging widower These memories and images are as elusive as distorted as tricky as the painting But when brought together they capture the luminosity pain and newness of a pivotal summer in his youthMax is a flawed and not particularly likeable character and he's often looking through the bottom of a bottle which adds to the hazy unreliability of his point of view His aching melancholy is always felt an aging man who can only look back and piece together as best he can a story that is at once innocent and vaguely sinister This exploration of memory grief and loss washes over you with many waves dragging you under to the murky depthsReading John Banville is like gazing at a painting His poetic style is incredibly evocative and visual He brings his readers to the scene right up close to his subjects We can smell their breath we can see the little imperfections At the same time we are not entirely sure how this person got there were they wearing a blue dress or a floral one? He meanders between past and present revealing just enough a trail of literary breadcrumbs Each brushstroke works with the next to complete the story This 2005 Booker Prize winner is gorgeous a masterpiece delineating the difference between literature and just plain fiction

  6. Dolors Dolors says:

    And I who timidly hate life fear death with fascination Livro do desassossego Fernando Pessoa“Perhaps all of life is no than a long preparation for the leaving of it” proclaims Max Morten narrator and main character of The Sea after his wife Anna passes away victim of a long and enduring illnessDrowning in the grief which comes with the vast and ruthless sea of loss he decides to seclude himself in the little coastal village where he spent his summers as a boy A flood of unavoidable memories charged with haunted emotion and digressive meditations recreate that dreamy atmosphere that only childhood can nurture New found memories which serve to wash away his conflicting emotions between the impotence of witnessing life uietly fading away and the cruel complacency of ordinary things allowing death to happen indifferentlyBut as Max invades his frozen memories he awakens ghosts long gone though never forgotten and the unsettling and seductive Grace twins his childhood friends will become sharply delineated on the wall of his memory prompting unintended recollections about the strangeness and dislocation of one’s own existence and the immortal burden of being the survivor ”You are not even allowed to hate me a little any like you used to” says Anna to Max with a sad knowing smile Isn't it true that we can’t help hating the ones we love the most? We are human beings after all And the guilt and the anger and the violence which come after our beloved have been irrevocably usurped from us leaving us alone with all that self disgust with no one to save us from ourselves hating them the gone even Banville threads a complex pattern between the gratuitous dramas of memory past traumas and an intolerable present which engages in eternal conflict with the enduring intensity of the natural world which with all its ruthless beauty and nonchalance mocks at our human insignificance And it is precisely when we are devastated by this insurmountable catastrophic truth that Banville's crafted poetry starts delivering rhythmic tides of controlled pleasure dropping pearls of beauty easing the sting of the meaningless words holding us together creating a new pregnant life full of wonder and possibilitiesI’m aware Banville's style might not appeal to every reader he doesn't rush he digresses languidly teasing and eroding your perceptions relentlessly his mortally serious ways can seem overdone but I responded to his uncompromising tone so graceful and precise Poetry in prose Memories may say nothing but they are never silent pulling and pushing futilely turned the wrong way urging us to be drowned and get lost in them never to return But somehow these little vessels of sadness these sinking boats we all are sailing in muffled silence in this hollow sea of impotence and disregard manage to catch the smooth rolling swells coming from the deeps only to be lifted and carried away towards the shore as if nothing had happened And as our feet touch the ground we realize that our lives have been in spite of everything in spite of ourselves acts of pure love and only for that they are worth living and it was as if I were walking into the sea

  7. Lizzy Lizzy says:

    Night and everything so uiet as if there were no one not even myself I cannot hear the sea which on other nights rumbles and growls now near grating now afar and faint I do not want to be alone like this Why have you not come back to haunt me? Is the least I would have expected of you Why this silence day after day night after interminable night? It is like a fog this silence of yours What is John Banville’s The Sea all about? An infinite weave of contemplative and melancholic feelings of a man lost in his sufferings It is about the impossibility of hope; the harshness of loss and the inescapability of pain A convulsive probe into the past it revisits times gone by that sets it all adrift Constant guilt for what could not have been changed accounts of resentments and the restraints and combat of a man to the intimacy of grief All coupled with constant images and metaphors of a turbulent and immeasurable sea There were things of course the boy that I was then would not have allowed himself to foresee in his eager anticipations even if he had been able Loss grief the sombre days and the sleepless nights such surprises tend not to register on the prophetic imagination's photographic plate The story is narrated by Max a retired art critic who is mourning the death of his wife Anna and now living at The Cedars which he remembers from his youth Whether recalling those days when he lived with his family in modest surroundings and gawked eagerly into the house and its inhabitants the Graces John Banville impresses with his beautiful splendid and brittle writing His protagonist Max is governed by his whims which twists and weakens before its sorrowfulness his mourning the sutures of old dislikes and the trace of his fossilized tears These days I must take the world in small and carefully measured doses it is a sort of homeopathic cure I am undergoing though I am not certain what this cure is meant to mend Perhaps I am learning to live among the living again Practising I mean But no that is not it Being here is just a way of not being anywhere Among meditations on losses and presages of death we encounter once in a while a specter of happiness might we dream of hope? Possibly this is too far to imagine but even Banville protagonist’s wanderings remember to point to the existence of peace if not happiness Like the sun that steals a chance to come through on an overcast and dark sky with its rays reflecting alluringly in the tumultuous sea How does Banville present us with a scene not so wistful how can he amidst so such melancholy bring up moments of joy? His only escape is through remembrances of a long gone past a past of friendship a past with wisps of seduction forgetting the losses that followed for mere moments Those moments invariably invoke the sea with its vastness and its depths along with its mysterious personal allure Still that day of license and illicit invitation was not done As Mrs Grace stretched there on the grassy bank continued softly snoring a torpor descended on the rest of us in that little dell the invisible net of lassitude that falls over a company when one of its number detaches and drops away into sleep Suddenly she was the centre of the scene the vanishing point upon which everything converged suddenly it was she for whom these patterns and these shades had been arranged with such meticulous artlessness that white cloth on the polished glass the leaning blue green tree the frilled ferns even those little clouds trying to seem not to move high up in the limitless marine sky All is not darkness; the memories bring back those long ago days of lightness Thus there are furtive moments of carefree recollection that appear to console our protagonist Happiness was different in childhood It was so much a matter of simply of accumulation of taking things new experiences new emotions and applying them like so many polished tiles to what would someday be the marvelously finished pavilion of the self And incredulity that too was a large part of being happy I mean that euphoric inability fully to believe one's simple luck I have always loved the sea with its ever changing tides and undercurrents and its massive waters always invoked sentiments of peace or turbulence in me; never of melancholy and sorrow Thus Banville through Max seems to view a different sea from mine No matter what sea we contemplate a lush tropical one or Max’s frigid and bleak one the differences persist Could a austere sea invoke the sentiments Max tells us in his narrative? No I do not think it comes from the sea but from inside And it seems frozen by the winds of gloom in Max’s heart However there are rare moments of peace and hopefulness even if short lived And ultimately he returns to his sufferings and the loss that so ravaged him We forgave each other for all that we were not What could be expected in this vale of torments and tears? Do not look so worried Anna said I hated you too a little we were human beings after all Yet for all that I cannot rid myself of the convictions that we missed something that I missed something only I do not know what it might have been Thus Anna tried to liberate Max of his guilt Yes we are allowed to hate those we love; and if we can hate is solely because we loved That’s how human beings can form relationships by being truthful to themselves However Max was not ready to give up on his guilt that still hangs on together with his memories of AnnaStill drowning in his grief from his hard and recent loss we read and feel for its inevitability like the tide that stops for nothing and Max unavoidable memories hurt and haunt him His memories only escalate his sentiment of gloom and remorse I have to confess that this was one of the scattered moments where I read than the beauty of Banville well chosen words; his suffering with the loss of his wife touched me deeply I sat in the bay of the window and watched the day darken Bare trees across the road were black against the last flares of the setting sun and the rooks in a raucous flock were wheeling and dropping settling disputatiously for the night I was thinking of Anna I make myself think of her I do it as an exercise She is lodged in me like a knife and yet I am beginning to forget her However Max not ready yet to let Anna go calls for her in his immense sadness like a sinking boat that is missing the saving grace of a gracious wind that picks up on the waves of forgetfulness which would push him to a safe shore and acceptance I said something some fatuous thing such as Don't go or Stay with me but again she gave that impatient shake of the head and tugged my hand to draw me closer They are stopping the clocks she said the merest threat of a whisper conspiratorial I have stopped time And she nodded a solemn knowing nod and smiled too I would swear it was a smile Alas all Banville’s lyrical and bittersweet chronicle left me with plenty of beautiful uotes Yes I was carried away by his lyricism and kept going between uotes Banville mostly gives us poetry in prose However I felt Banville's elouence and his gorgeously passionate way of phrasing what he wants to say somehow impacts adversely on his storytelling ability I recently read Virginia Woolf’s The Waves and there her lyricism worked because that was what she aimed to do There was no storyline no plot and it worked perfectly No so here I felt Banville’s characters suffered from the weight of his lyrical prose I ended loving it for its poetry but not loving it so much for his characters Yes Max is not the kind of protagonist I appreciate Yes the themes are explored to the fullest Yes Banville tells his tale alluringly with a delightful language that few writers can glue together Yes I loved the theme it's profound reflections on love loss regret and the role memory plays in the grieving process His insights are certainly great literature But it left me wanting wanting a protagonist I could fully comprehend and grasp Perhaps it is not so terrible to be left wanting hence do not judge me harshly for my dissatisfaction Nevertheless highly recommended

  8. Fabian Fabian says:

    I just have to say it it's all semiunremarkable until page 170 or so this book like many in the modern canon such as “Amsterdam” another Booker winner is short in that bittersweet sort of way—perilously malingering at 200 pages between being almost a novel but not uite a novella—the plot ebbs and flows ha through an ocean of profound memories The narrator chronicles basically two points in his life which left him devastated His first ever and his latest all revolve around the sea its massiveness its depths its personal mysterious allure He meditates on the last one of these presages of death that looming event itself so final and sad—and the end really is like dynamite I can only compare it to “Everyman” by Philip Roth even “The Death of Ivan Ilych” in its management of such a theme which is at first glimpse frankly droll overdone The poetry which had been glimpsed at before creates a lasting impact on the reader at its speedy conclusion The tedium and clichéd tactics become very much negligible once the ending gets there Here is a paramount example of how the ending makes the book

  9. Jim Fonseca Jim Fonseca says:

    A gentleman reflects on his life especially his youth after the death of his wife He returns to the formative landscape of his childhood a modest seaside town and inn in Ireland It is also the site of the formative tragedy of his childhood In effect we have a coming of age novel as reflected upon in later life Instead of the psychological depth of Danish author Jens Grondahl reflecting on his marriage in Silence in October we get lush descriptions and beautiful turns of phrase Thoughtful slow reading; a treasure with many lines to savor The Sea won the Booker Prize in 2005 and was picked as Novel of the Year by the Irish Book Awards in 2006

  10. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    This is a Booker Prize winner The language in this short novel is very very rich evocative and annoyingly sent me to the dictionary far too many times for comfort Banville is just showing off descending into literary affectation perhaps Two time lines interweave as Max a retired art critic now living at The Cedars a grand house of note from his youth recalls those days when he lived with his family in much modest surroundings and peered longingly into this place Of course it was not wealth per se that drew his 11 year old interest but the presence of The Graces not a religious fascination but a family A pan like goatish father Carlo an earth mother Constance white haired and thus summoning Children of the Damned notions twins a strange mute boy Myles who is sometimes comedic and sometimes sinister a maybe sociopathic girl Chloe and another girl Rose who appeared to be a mere friend but was their governess That this is left unclear for much of the book seems odd Young Max enjoys the social step up he gets by hanging out with the twins and is uite willing to go along with their cruelties to subservient locals but is most taken with Constance Grace pining for her in an awakening sexual way until of course his heart or some bodily part is stolen by Chloe There is a scent here of Gatsby ish longing and Max is indeed a social climber Death figures very prominently in The Sea “They departed the gods on the day of the strange tide” is how it opens and goes on very briefly to summon an image of a rising sea intent on devouring all I will spare you the final death scene but Max does indeed cope with death the passing of his wife Anna contemplation of his own ultimate demise and how death as personified by the sea not only affected his life but seems always with us This is I suppose a novel of coming and going of age Banville is uite fond of deitific references finding a different god or goddess for each of his characters And his art critic narrator sprinkles the narration with references to paintings Sadly for me I am completely unfamiliar with the works noted so may have missed key references Max is not a nice person He engages in cruel behavior as a child and appears to lack a strong core of humanity confessing that he doesn’t really know his daughter very well and not seeming to care much I was almost satisfied with the ending which recalls the most significant event of his youth but I felt that it left unsatisfactorily unexplained the reasons for its occurrence I was also frustrated by the slowness of the book Although it is a short novel it seemed to take a long time to get going And the central characters do not call out for any of us to relate to them All that said while I might not award it a Booker I would recommend it The language is sublime tote a dictionary while you read You will need it and the payoff is good enough to justify the slow pace PS for a very different and fascinating take on the novel be sure to check out Cecily's review

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