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The Sea by John Banville
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The Sea (original 2005; edition 2006)

by John Banville

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,0981311,231 (3.47)1 / 373
Member:Ireadthereforeiam
Title:The Sea
Authors:John Banville
Info:Vintage (2006), Paperback, 195 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Booker Prize, grief, parenting, friendship

Work details

The Sea by John Banville (2005)

  1. 20
    Shroud by John Banville (ghefferon)
  2. 64
    On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (kiwiflowa, Smiler69)
    kiwiflowa: same introspective feel and prose etc
    Smiler69: Both are stories about people dealing with difficult feelings and situations, both beautifully told in gorgeous prose.
  3. 21
    Eclipse by John Banville (bergs47)
  4. 00
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (WSB7)
    WSB7: To me Banville's book deals with similar materials so much more effectively than James.
  5. 00
    Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (sek_smith)
  6. 00
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Men looking back on their youth, similar issues with memories. Both beautiful reads.
  7. 22
    Collected Stories by William Trevor (chrisharpe)
  8. 01
    Eustace and Hilda: A Trilogy by L. P. Hartley (chrisharpe)
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English (123)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (131)
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
Poetic Prose
By sally tarbox on 15 April 2012
Format: Paperback
Exquisitely written novel: I savoured such descriptions as 'the iron gate...rust has reduced its struts to a tremulous filigree'.
The narrator slips between three time zones- the present, staying in a seaside guest house in the village where he spent childhood summers.
The recent past, living with his wife through her terminal illness. And the distant past and the summer when he met the exciting Grace family- glamorous parents, and their 11 year old twins...
Keep on reading; right up to the end you think nothing much is going on but the twist comes right at the end.
I can't say it's one of those books that will remain with me- it was hard to really engage with any of the characters- but Banville's poetic prose is quite out of this world. ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
Tried this as an audio book - way too slow, my eyes were glazing. Not my cup of tea. ( )
  TheDenizen | May 31, 2016 |
Max is a man that isn't sure how to cope with the loss of his wife. So shortly after he passing he goes back to the place where he first fell in love, but not with her, the Seaside town of Ballyless.

I'm not sure that I fully got this one. It was a short read but it kind of dragged on for me. I didn't like that it only had two sections and not chapters. And because of that I felt that Banville bounced around a lot between plots, past and present, as well as characters. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who and why they were important. I'm not sure that I could recommend this to anyone. I didn't like it and was so thankful that it was over. ( )
  welkeral | Mar 20, 2016 |
Check out our full review with movie trailer for the adaptation on our blog:

www.thereadersroom.org ( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Having looked at other reviews this does appear to be a marmite book you either love it or you hate it, as you may have guessed I fell into the hated it category.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the story the poetical descriptions the use of repetition to emphasize things and the feelings of loss expressed by the narrator.

The middle of the book in my view was a mishmash of 2 past events blended in with the present and skipping from one to the other with little warning or cohesion.

The end of the book at least made an effort to tie up the loose ends and give the reader some clarity but the understated way the climatical revelations were made for me made them lose impact it was almost a case of blink and you miss it.

While in parts beautifully written I found this overall a dull book.
( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
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John Banvilleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castanyo, EduardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They departed, the gods, on the day of the strange tide.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The narrator is Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who, soon after his wife's death, has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidaysd as a child-a retreat from the grief, anger, and numbness of his life without her, But it is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled vacationing family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. The seductive mother; the imperious father; the twins-Chloe, fiery and forthright,m and Myles, silent and expressionless-in whose mysterious connection Max became profoundly entangled, each of them a part of the 'barely bearable raw immediacy" of his childhood memories. Interwoven with this story are Morden's memories of his wife, Anna-of their life together, of her death- and the moments, both significant and mundane, that make up his life now: his relationship with his grown daughter, Claire, desperate to pull him from his grief; amd with the other boarders at the house where he is staying, where the past beats inside him "like a second heart." What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of the elegiac, vividly dramatic, beautifully written novel-among the finest we have had from this extraordinary writer. 210
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307263118, Hardcover)

Incandescent prose. Beautifully textured characterisation. Transparent narratives. The adjectives to describe the writing of John Banville are all affirmative, and The Sea is a ringing affirmation of all his best qualities. His publishers are claiming that this novel by the Booker-shortlisted author is his finest yet, and while that claim may have an element of hyperbole, there is no denying that this perfectly balanced book is among the writer’s most accomplished work.

Max Morden has reached a crossroads in his life, and is trying hard to deal with several disturbing things. A recent loss is still taking its toll on him, and a trauma in his past is similarly proving hard to deal with. He decides that he will return to a town on the coast at which he spent a memorable holiday when a boy. His memory of that time devolves on the charismatic Grace family, particularly the seductive twins Myles and Chloe. In a very short time, Max found himself drawn into a strange relationship with them, and pursuant events left their mark on him for the rest of his life. But will he be able to exorcise those memories of the past?

The fashion in which John Banville draws the reader into this hypnotic and disturbing world is non pareil, and the very complex relationships between his brilliantly delineated cast of characters are orchestrated with a master’s skill. As in such books as Shroud and The Book of Evidence, the author eschews the obvious at all times, and the narrative is delivered with subtlety and understatement. The genuine moments of drama, when they do occur, are commensurately more powerful. --Barry Forshaw

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:14 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"The narrator is Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who, soon after his wife's death, has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child - a retreat from the grief, anger, and numbness of his life without her. But it is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled vacationing family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. The seductive mother; the imperious father; the twins - Chloe, fiery and forthright, and Myles, silent and expressionless - in whose mysterious connection Max became profoundly entangled, each of them a part of the "barely bearable raw immediacy" of his childhood memories." "Interwoven with this story are Morden's memories of his wife, Anna - of their life together, of her death - and the moments, both significant and mundane, that make up his life now: his relationship with his grown daughter, Claire, desperate to pull him from his grief; and with the other boarders at the house where he is staying, where the past beats inside him "like a second heart.""--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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