Love, Etc

Love, Etc

Book - 2000
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In Talking It Over, stolid and conventional Stuart was best friends with charming and glamorous Oliver. Veering wildly between them was Gillian, the enigmatic beauty who married Stuart and then promptly fell in love with Oliver. In Love, etc Barnes returns to the lives of these unreliable "eyewitnesses." And as in Talking It Over, he allows each character to talk directly to the reader, offering arguments for their version of the truth. Ten years later, Gillian and Oliver are married with two children. Gillian is successful (she runs a thriving art restoration business); Oliver is not. The family lives in a ramshackle neighbourhood of London. Stuart, recently returned from the US, is wealthy, divorced (again) and the successful owner of a chain of organic grocery stores. On the surface he appears to have only a benign interest in the fate of Oliver and Gillian. But it becomes all too clear that while marriages may dissolve, memories of betrayal do not. Love, etc is a compelling exploration of a contemporary romantic triangle, depicted with Barnes's inimitable intelligence.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Random House Canada, 2000.
ISBN: 9780679310839
0679310835
Characteristics: 249 p.

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gendeg
Sep 30, 2014

All I could think when I was reading Love Etc. by Julian Barnes was the Rashomon effect. Here we have three friends, Oliver, Stuart, and Gillian, in a classic love triangle. But Barnes gives the love triangle a postmodern, playful twist where each character speaks to us, the reader, with face-to-face candor, as if we were some therapist in an office listening to their contradictory interpretations, feelings, and thoughts of the same events. This books is less about narrative and more about character and voice. That said, Barnes has an amazing ear for voice. Reading the book, hearing these characters speak their thoughts, I knew them. It's an intimate connection with characters that I don't think I've ever had with other books I've read.

Love, Etc. is filled with deep insights into love, relationships, and life. Barnes's writing is breathtaking sometimes. It punches you in the gut. This book could have devolved into soap opera hysterics, but it never does. Instead it is a cacophony of pain and bitterness and joy and passion that is intense, cunning, and delightful.

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