Review Round Up: The Only Story by Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes explores matters of the human heart in his latest novel. Here’s what critics have had to say about it… 

The Only story

First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that at nineteen. At nineteen, 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.

The Guardian: “The ending is quietly breathtaking, evidence of the subterranean magic that’s wrought by those seemingly austere sentences.”

Evening Standard: ” It is, as ever, cleverly constructed and deftly written, packed with Barnes’s skilfully turned essays.”

The Independent: **** “Barnes writes with such shattering emotional acuity.”

Irish Times: “The Only Story is also a novel of carefully tamped fury at the post-war fate of women like Susan.”

The Spectator: “this compelling narrative of happiness is delicately undermined by an equally compelling narrative of unhappiness. ”

i News: “It is an uneven work which nevertheless distils some of the pandemonium, and intergenerational conflict, of our own uncertain time.”

The Times: “This is Julian Barnes at the height of his powers”

The Telegraph: *** “veteran Barnes-watchers will recognise The Only Story as an example of a story that he has told and retold across his career.”

Express: ***** “Deeply affecting and profoundly philosophical, The Only Story is a novel by an author at the height of his technical powers and should win Barnes a fifth Booker Prize nomination.”

The Economist: “a master of the novel that unfolds cleanly before the reader and yet interrogates itself as it is told.”

The London Magazine: “he is back in top form with The Only Story, a novel that has all the zesty elegance of great vintage Barnes.”

The FT: “Sometimes it feels like Barnes himself might have been telling only one story through all his writing. And this is to the good, for his themes are the big, unfashionable, universals — ageing, memory, above all love — and they have remained constant.”

Herald Scotland: “Barnes’s superbly restrained and haunting contemplation of the problem mirrors the way one remembers and thinks, circling backwards and leaping forwards as the mind tries to make sense of what is, eventually, unfathomable.”

The Only Story is available to buy through Amazon now

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