(Ahem.) Looking more like a script than a novel, this comic tragedy unfolds entirely in dialogue, as a series of soliloquies and private confessions on the oldest subject in the world. In that novel, Gillian switched her affections from Stuart to his best friend, Oliver, with devastating effect. Since then, Gillian has been more or less happily married to Oliver and raising their two little girls. What you have to understand is that Stuart wants you to like him, needs you to like him, whereas Oliver has a certain difficulty imagining that you won't. Much has changed in the intervening decade since Gillian jilted her lover and married his best friend, but more striking is what hasn't. Oliver and Stuart pick up just where they left off, jousting like young rivals. But Stuart is not the insecure dullard he once was, and Oliver's rapier wit, once so flashy and intimidating, now seems irrelevant in the grownup world of equity and fatherhood. Gillian anticipates the awkwardness of this entanglement with her exhusband, but Oliver feels so superior that he fails to see the tables turning.
There's Oliver, who appears the most up but is in fact down. There's Stuart, who appears the most innocent but is in fact a scheming monster. Barnes makes the voices of Stuart and Oliver so distinct in themselves and so wondrously authentic feeling that I find it hard to resist the thought that they may be a slightly exaggerated representation of two extreme poles in his own character: the quiet, thoughtful plotter and the ebullient witty wordsmith.
He does this very well through several unreliable narrators, but ultimately, this is the story of a threesome that's made up of Stuart and Oliver, best friends, and their wife, Gillian. Ten years later, Stuart comes back from the USA and gets back in touch with Gillian and Oliver, who now live in a shabby house and have two daughters. Is Stuart still in love with Gillian. It worked brilliantly as an audiobook, especially since three different narrators were reading the three main parts.
He's like an extremely capable and intellectual novelist who's decided to write very accessibly just because it's fun that way. I like his sense of humour. But it's there, in these stories.
Dei Barnes ne face s ne simim ca i când nu ne-am fi desprit niciodat de Stuart, Oliver sau Gillian, cu siguran avem de a face cu personaje aproape complet diferite. Dei în aparen Oliver i-a pstrat umorul i lipsa total de interes fa de realitatea lumii moderne, Stuart, gândirea practic în termeni economici iar Gillian buna dispoziie i tria de caracter, pentru a-i putea întreine financiar familia, cei trei se confrunt mult mai puternic cu fantomele trecutului pe care au crezut c le-au lsat în urm. Mai mult decât sigur c trebuie s ajung la vârsta acestor personaje pentru a le înelege cu adevrat dramele; poate c par a fi conflicte legate de gelozie i rzbunare obinuite, îns în acest context creat de autor, binele i rul devin lucruri foarte abstracte. De aceea, a recomanda aceast carte tocmai persoanelor care au trecut prin aceste experiene, au poate peste treizeci de ani, s-au aflat în situaii asemntoare cu Stuart, Oliver sau Gillian i i-au pus probleme similare.
Its hard to imagine a more perfect marriage of form and content than Love, etc, in which Julian Barnes continues the story of characters that came to life in Talking It Over. Julian Barnes tells the story of this love triangle entirely in the first person. Gillian, Oliver and Stuart appear like talking heads on a screen to relate their own side of things. Oliver is as full of theatre and bravura as he was throughout Talking It Over, but now it rings more of a bluff, a screen erected for self-protection rather than an extroverts sheen.
After ten years, the rhetoric of the people have changed too and Barnes has made this change happen dexterously. While in the first book, we often see peoples account of the same event back to back, here you see there are people who are talking one after the other and the ties are not so immediate.
Gillian and Oliver are married. Gillian and Stuart were once married. Oliver is a pompous prig, an over-educated wastrel, with various projects "in development" (which is another way of saying he thinks about things to do, but never does them). Of course, then he comes back: back to England, back into Gillians and Olivers lives. As if the characters were speaking to an un- identified interviewer, the person behind the camera.
He lived in London with his wife, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh, until her death on 20 October 2008.