By John Banville
(Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9781400097029, 195pp.)
Publication Date: August 15, 2006
List Price: $14.95*
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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.
- The Sea is made up of three temporal layers: the distant past of Max’s childhood, the recent past of his wife’s illness and death, and the present of his return to Ballyless. Instead of keeping these layers distinctly separated, Banville segues among them or splices them together, sometimes within a single sentence. Why might he have chosen to do this, and what methods does he use to keep the reader oriented in his novel’s time scheme?
“Remarkable. . . . The power and strangeness and piercing beauty of [The Sea is] a wonder.”
– The Washington Post Book World
“With his fastidious wit and exquisite style, John Banville is the heir to Nabokov. . . . The Sea [is] his best novel so far.”–The Sunday Telegraph
“The Sea offers an extraordinary meditation on mortality, grief, death, childhood and memory. . . . Undeniably brilliant.” –USA Today
“A gem. . . . [The sea]is a presence on every page, its ceaseless undulations echoing constantly in the cadences of the prose. This novel shouldn't simply be read. It needs to be heard, for its sound is intoxicating. . . . A winning work of art.” –The Philadelphia Inquirer