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Publisher's Summary

'Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.'

First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn't know anything about that at 19. At 19, he's proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention. As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen.

©2018 Julian Barnes (P)2018 W.F. Howes Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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No Reviews are Available
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Malcolm Hart
  • 10-02-2018

Barnes is superb as alway.

If you enjoy Julian Barnes’ writing as I do, you’ll enjoy this book. If your new to Barnes then I suggest you start with Sense of an Ending and then return to this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 21-02-2018

Love's Labour Lost?


19 year-old university student Paul fell in love with 48 year-old Susan at his home-village tennis club. Married to a bitter, onion-munching and progressively violent man, Susan seizes the chance of happiness with Paul. They ‘run away together’ as the expression then was and predictably it all in ends in tears. Their love-making becomes the ‘saddest sex of all’, Susan, isolated, become a hopeless alcoholic and Paul’s love turns to impotent pity and anger. He never marries.

So far so apparently dreary, but not when written by Julian Barnes. It’s the shifting of Paul’s narrative from first, second, and third person, and old man Paul reflecting on his young self’s experience of the ‘story’, subtly exploring the progressive damage wrought by their affair which makes this deceptively ordinary everyday story so disturbing, forcing listeners into analysing their own experiences of love and loss.

The effect of Susan’s disintegration on Paul is minutely observed, and the character of Susan’s elderly friend Joan, living alone with her dogs having got her life sadly wrong, are haunting. The narration is excellent, capturing a range of narrative voices young and old, male and female convincingly and sympathetically – a real achievement.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Cassie Havisham
  • 03-05-2018

A drain

I couldn't warm to the characters or to Paul's later obsessive self-absorption.
Quite a few stylish tics too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss P Russell
  • 01-05-2018

Better at marketing than writing

I was really disappointed with this book after the hype that's surrounding it. While the characters are well developed, the plot is dull and very drawn out. I would not recommend reading/listening to this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 08-04-2018

Cross generational observation of love. Beautiful.

Guy Mott's voice is versatile and a pleasure to listen to. Julian Barnes is such a keen observer and as you read/listen to this you are bound to feel drawn in, draw parallels with your own loves and go a little pensive. Emotionally rich and a window onto the sports and wine lifestyles in Surrey, and their effects.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nish
  • 05-04-2018

Well read

Others have written about the substance of the book. I just wanted to add that I enjoyed this book, particularly as Guy Mott read it so well. Unlike some other narrators of Audible books, he was great to listen to - I think he helped to make the book more engaging. 🙂

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Johns
  • 26-02-2018

Ugh... don’t bother!

There was a lot of hype about this book. I’d never read anything by Julian Barnes, but thought I’d try it and I wish I hadn’t. I persevered through all 7+ hours as I hope that something mind blowing would happen, but it didn’t. There was nothing in this book to make you care about any of the characters and so it was difficult to care about the story, which was slow moving, rambling and limped to the finish line. The narrator did nothing to help create any empathy or warmth for the protagonist, but he can’t so much with such a limp story so I gave him 2 stars. I listen to 30+ audio books a year and this is the first I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on. Do yourself a favour, find another book to listen to!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Sam
  • 20-02-2018

Thoroughly depressing

Not one likeable character. Totally depressing storyline from every angle. Kept listening hoping for some kind of positive take away but it never came. Used to love JB but think this is it for me. I only hope his life is happier than that of his characters.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Czarniecka
  • 05-06-2018

not my favourite love story

It was wrongly recommended to me as "one of the most beautiful love stories of the XXI century". It is rather common love story even though it is well written and well performed. It contains some interesting statements and observations about love but most of the time it was just boring.

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  • Dorothy & Joe Yeomans
  • 28-03-2018

Definitely not to my liking

I only persisted to the out of a misplaced hope that this has to improve, based on my enjoyment of the other Barnes' novels I have read. I found the story claustrophobic with no sympathetic characters and a self-obsessed narrator. I have read other novels where the main character slides downhill all the way, Zola seemed to write them all the time, but rarely one with so little point.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bee
  • 24-03-2018

Not a comedy

Don't read if you need cheering up. I like French films in which not much happens but in which people are carefully examined and a sense of place and time is created. This story is a bit like that so I liked it. But I was a bit frustrated by the end because there's not much explanation for why one of the 2 main characters disintergrates as rapidly as they do.