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The Only Story: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Barnes, Julian
Subject:  FICTION / Coming of Age
  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Literary
  FICTION / Psychological
Publisher: Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Published: March 2019
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 272
Size: 8.00in x 5.18in
Our Price:
$ 19.95
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending, an achingly profound love story between a young man on the cusp of adulthood and a woman whose life is gradually moving in the opposite direction.

Most of us have only one story to tell. I don't mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives: there are countless events, which we turn into countless stories. But there's only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine.

It is the early 1960s, in a staid suburb fifteen miles south of London. Paul, home from university for the holidays, is urged by his mother to join the tennis club. At the mixed doubles tournament he is partnered with Mrs. Susan Macleod: she's more than twice his age, and the married mother of two nearly grown-up daughters. Soon Paul and Susan embark on an unconventional affair, despite the disapproval of Paul's parents and the seething resentment of Susan's husband.

First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn't know anything about that at nineteen. But as he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen.

Wryly observant and devastatingly tender, The Only Story is a profound, contemplative novel by one of fiction's greatest mappers of the human heart.
Review Quote*"Staggering-intelligent, inspiring, tender and, ultimately, quite devastating." -Toronto Star

"The plot of The Only Story might be salacious or trite in another writer's hands. But in the capable hands of Julian Barnes, winner of the Booker Prize for 2011's The Sense of an Ending, it's an unbearably sad meditation on love, age and memory that stands among the British author's loveliest, most haunting works." -Winnipeg Free Press

"Heartfelt, honest and unflinching, The Only Story isn't your typical happily-ever-after tome, but it will get you thinking about love, loss and the state of the heart." -Canadian Living

"[Barnes] returns to the themes of his first novel in this story, of an affair told from two vantage points, with captivating results. . . . The ending is quietly breathtaking, evidence of the subterranean magic that's wrought by those seemingly austere sentences." -The Guardian

"Immensely powerful." -New Statesman

"Mr. Barnes is a master of the novel that unfolds cleanly before the reader and yet interrogates itself as it is told." -The Economist

"[The Only Story] is a novel that quietly sinks its hooks into the reader and refuses to let go. . . . As a feat of narrative control it shows a novelist at the height of his powers. As an exploration of whether love is indeed ‘the only story,' and if so whether that word ‘only' may reveal itself to mean miserably restrictive rather than happily unique, it is quietly devastating." -The Times

"[B]eautifully succinct. . . . This is not an easy story. . . . Told with particular heartbreak, The Only Story allows us to consider exuberance and its partner in crime, grief. In this work, Barnes forces us to reflect on the very essence of what makes a love story. Of course, he raises more questions than he answers but, surely, this is his gift to us. The Only Story will lead you to ruminate, pleasurably. Truly." -Readings (Australia)

"The Only Story-being a British teenage romance-is a perfectly accomplished book, with no missteps, inconsistencies, or obvious shortcomings. . . . Each part has its moments of enchanting, psychologically descriptive prose. . . . It is a perplexing, profoundly enjoyable read, even for readers who ultimately reject Paul's thesis about the only story. . . . Barnes has once again shown himself capable of transforming the mundane and ephemeral into the lyrical and lasting." -Los Angeles Review of Books
Biographical NoteJULIAN BARNES is the author of twelve novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories; four collections of essays; and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to Be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times #1 bestseller Levels of Life. In 2017 he was awarded the Légion d'honneur.