Winner Man Booker Prize
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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
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
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