By the Sea in Ireland, Mourning

I’ve moved on to Ireland in my trip around the world. This time it is to join John Banville and his protagonist Max as they mourn in a house by the seaside. Below is my review. The SeaThe Sea by John Banville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a beautiful novel of love and loss. The narrator, Max, has just lost his wife of many years and goes to stay in a seaside house that he visited as a child. There he travels back and forth between musing about his relationship with his wife, particularly after her cancer diagnosis, and recalling the summer he spent with the family who lived in this house, a summer when he began the transition from childhood to manhood.

The language is strong and full of images. Max writes about the artist Bonnard, and midway through the book, I had to search for images of Bonnard’s works online because I felt that having the images in my mind would help me imagine the world through Max’s eyes more clearly. But truly Banville paints carefully with his words as he crafts this tale and even without a trip into art history, it is a very beautiful read. Banville captures images of his characters, complete with light reflecting off a sleeve, or a piece of flesh casually bared, that are very like the portraiture his character describes. The relationships in the novel are carefully observed and unflinchingly drawn. These are not sentimental memories, but complicated ones, full of desire, discovery, and disillusionment, an honest range of human experience. Max ponders his relationships not only with other people in his life, but also with his profession, with social class, and ultimately with himself.

View all my reviews

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About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
This entry was posted in 1001 Books, Around the World 2012, Booker, Books and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to By the Sea in Ireland, Mourning

  1. Sue Drees says:

    another nice review Beth.

  2. I agree. Nice review, Beth.

  3. Pragya says:

    Wow, this book sounds really good. It’s been on my TBR since a while. Guess I should get to reading it now.

  4. Sue Drees says:

    I agree Pragya. I know it’s been on my list for a long time and I’ve yet to read anything by Banville.

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