The Only Story by Julian Barnes

The Only Story

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 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.Tender an...

Details The Only Story

TitleThe Only Story
Release DateFeb 1st, 2018
PublisherVintage Digital
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary, European Literature, British Literature, Novels, Literature, 21st Century, Romance, English Literature, Love

Reviews The Only Story

  • Adina
    .“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. You may point out –correctly –that it isn’t a real question. Because we don’t have the choice. If we had the choice, then there would be a question. But we don’t, so there isn’t. Who can control how much they love? If you can control it, then it isn’t love. I don’t know what you call it...
  • Paromjit
    This is Julian Barnes's latest offering, an author I absolutely adore. It is a profound and moving love story, and the complexities, intense suffering and heartbreak that accompanies it. It has Paul looking back on his only story, the love of his life, and his shifting perspectives as time passes. Barnes can be relied on for his well crafted beautiful prose and imagery, underscored by a musicality that beguiles and delights. The novel is split in...
  • Seemita
    "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." This sentence, which introduced this most recent book of Julian Barnes to his potential readers, was pretty much my Achilles heel from Page 1. I don’t quite understand how you can adjust the levels of love, like making marks on a burette and letting the content drip as per your desire of colour and con...
  • Mary
    I’d forgotten how contemplative and funny Julian Barnes is. The mood of this novel is nostalgic and retrospective – but not saccharine. That a book so touching and tragic could be so ironic and amusing, and helplessly sad, and then end on a cold, blunt note struck me as realistic and sort of wonderful. I really admired the final pages. I don’t think it should have ended any other way. Our lives are often disastrous and heart-breaking, our m...
  • Bianca
    2.5 stars rounded upI declared 2017 the Julian Barnes year on account of reading and loving seven of his books.The Sense of An Ending, while it is one of his most popular books, was my least favourite novel of his. The Only Story is somewhat similar to that one, as it has an older narrator, Paul, reminiscing about his nineteen-year-old self in the 1960s and his first love and relationship with Susan, a woman twenty-nine years his senior. You read...
  • Roula
    Αλλο ενα υπεροχα μελαγχολικο βιβλιο απο τον πολυαγαπημενο μου Τζουλιαν Μπαρνς.εδω λοιπον λεει πολλες,μεγαλες και σκληρες αληθειες -για αλλη μια φορα- σχετικα με τον ερωτα και τις σχεσεις.ο πρωταγωνιστης στα 19 του χρονια καλειται να ενηλικιωθει γ...
  • Neil
    "Most of us have only one story to tell. I don’t mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives: there are countless events, which we turn into countless stories. But there’s only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine."In The Only Story, Barnes revisits a subject he explored in The Sense of an Ending: the unreliable narrator, an older man looking back on his youth and trying to make sense of it. In the former boo...
  • Roman Clodia
    In 1963, a 19 year old student starts an affair with a 48 year old woman: a relationship that starts easily, which he believes is love...This is very easy to read with some gentle humour in the first half, as well as indicators of the cruelty of lovers (Susan's nickname for her mild, dull husband is Mr Elephant Pants because of his vast grey trousers!), but ultimately I found it more telling for the social history, the sexual mores and expectatio...
  • Trudie
    ( 2.5 probably but I feel guilted into a 3 )So.... it pains me a little to write this review because I really don't like to be so far outside of popular opinion on a book. It is perhaps a shame this is my first Julian Barnes novel as I know he is a much beloved author and his The Sense of an Ending is a popular Booker winner. There is no doubt you are in capable writerly hands when picking up this novel. My reactions to this are not indictments a...
  • Jill
    Perhaps many of us DO have only one story in our life that matters. Perhaps we have several. But relegating The Only Story to a love story between a boy barely out of his teens and a woman firmly ensconced in middle age would be serving this novel short.In truth, the book is about memory and how our stories become paradoxically, more nuanced and yet more distance as we age. Julian Barnes writes, “But nowadays, the raucousness of the first perso...
  • Gumble's Yard
    Most of us have only one story to tell. I don’t mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives: there are countless events, which we turn into countless stories. But there’s only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine.Everyone has their love story. Everyone. It may have been a fiasco, it may have fizzled out, it may never even have got going, it may have been all in the mind, that doesn’t make it any less real. ...
  • Paul Fulcher
    We were together– under the same roof, that is– for ten or more years. Afterwards, I continued to see her regularly. In later years, less often. When she died, a few years ago, I acknowledged that the most vital part of my life had finally come to a close. I shall always think of her well, I promised myself. And this is how I would remember it all, if I could. But I can’t.Julian Barnes’ latest novel, The Only Story tells the story of the ...
  • Netta
    It never ceases to amaze me how absolutely effortless Barnes’s writing is – as if the story was always there, begging to be told, as if there were two people who wanted to document their lives and mark their presence in the universe. That’s the reason the stories exist, isn’t? To mark our presence, our pain and our hopes.The Only Story is more than a story of "a long-haired student, 19" who fell in love with "a housewife, 48" and didn't m...
  • Nancy
    "Don't expect too much of me."from The Only StoryMy mother warned me. She was thirty-eight and I was nineteen when she warned that it happens to all lovers. My aunt once pondered, "What happened to us?" while reflecting on her first love and failed marriage.We see it all the time, famous couples in the news, the couple next door. We expect everything, throw ourselves into young love trusting that the connection shared is timeless and everlasting....
  • Paula Bardell-Hedley
    “Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.”Book critics have been busy comparing The Only Story, Julian Barnes' latest tale of suburban goings-on, with his 2011 Man Booker Prize-winning, The Sense of an Ending. While it's true both novels are narrated by melancholic older men looking back on their lives, the protagonists recollect their pasts in d...
  • Jonathan Pool
    I read this straight off the back of reading A Sense of An Ending. There are similarities; of setting- English Home Counties; of writing style- Barnes eases the reader into an engagement with the dominant (male) character. We travel from childhood to maturity with both Paul and Tony. Both are sad books.My first reaction on reading The Only Story was that it could be spliced into A Sense of An Ending, and that one longer, rather wistful and melan...
  • Doug
    Although not as stellar an achievement as Barnes' Booker-winning 'The Sense of an Ending', it is such a huge pleasure to luxuriate in Barnes' exquisite prose and expertly delineated characters (especially after a surfeit of dreadful experimental fiction), that I can't help but give it at least 4 stars. It tends to drag a bit towards the end, but the insights into love (and the lack thereof) make this a real pleasure to read. Am not quite sure abo...
  • Egor Mikhaylov
    Боже благослови Джулиана Барнса. Мы его не заслуживаем
  • Joachim Stoop
    Een mogelijke omschrijving van een steengoede auteur is dat er een bedrieglijke nonchalance, een losjes uit de pols, een valse vadsigheid optreedt. Ik zie tijdens het lezen al te vaak de schrijver van het boek in mijn gedachten aan een bureau zitten -met structuren en pistes in het hoofd mijmerend over de juiste keuzes. Daar is dus bij Barnes geen sprake van. Deze combinatie van vlotheid én nauwkeurigheid is enkel de grootsten gegeven. Het ik-ji...
  • Bookcharmed
    Το βιβλίο είναι καταπληκτικό! Εκτός από το πρώτο κεφάλαιο που με κούρασε λίγο, το υπόλοιπο, παρόλο που στην πλειοψηφία του δεν ήταν ευχάριστο, μου έδινε συνεχώς μικρά σοκ. . Κι αυτό γιατί έβαλε τον έρωτα στην απόλυτα σωστή του διάσταση. Έδειξε ότι δ...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    I don’t want to think too hard about what my love of melancholic older male narrators reflecting on their lives and loves says about me but this is a fine example of the trope. I struggled with the age difference between the lovers just as I did with THE LESSER BOHEMIANS. But Barnes is a beautiful observer of life, memory and love and he’s yet to write a book that doesn’t move me.
  • Mandy
    An old man reminisces about the great love affair of his life, his affair with a woman 30 years older than himself whom he met and ran away with when he was just 19 and she 48, married and with two daughters older than Paul himself. It was never going to turn out well, and of course it doesn’t. But for Paul it remains “the only story” and he shares it with the reader in exhaustive and ultimately repetitious and tedious detail. This is a sol...
  • Claire Fuller
    An old man, Paul, is remembering his first love: at 19 he starts a relationship with Susan, a woman of 48. I liked though, that the novel didn't dwell on the age difference, but what happens to a couple when the force of earlier relationships (or 'pre-history') affects the current one. The structure follows how memories come, staccato, jumping and sometimes repeating. It is very introspective, with not a huge amount of action, with the older Paul...
  • ns510
    I inhaled this one evening and ugh just loved the whole thing. It’s only my second ever Barnes, and now I want to read all the Julian Barnes there is. I felt like that after my first Barnes experience, and this has just cemented it.My first novel of his was the epic The Sense of an Ending, and in some ways, this really reminded me of that, which explains why I was similarly sucked right in. Julian Barnes seems like a wise, clear-eyed observer o...
  • Neale
    The back of the book has the words, " It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all". These words are crossed out and then written again. These words by themselves almost manage to capture the whole essence of the book.If you have read The Sense of an Ending you will immediately notice the similarities between the two books. Barnes once again explores the process of our memories, especially how we recall them, what we forget...
  • Jill
    Julian Barnes writes beautifully and in this regard, The Only Story does not disappoint. It was difficult to put the book down at first, but as the book moved on I lost some interest. It felt like a story I have read before and once we started rolling down that hill, there were no unexpected turns. I am still a big fan of his, but this book felt less extraordinary than the others to me.
  • Anne
    The bitter-sweet reminiscences of a transgressive love affair also create an evocative depiction of 1960’s Home County middle-class society, with its repressive sexual mores and restrictive expectations. As Paul recollects his past life, the immediacy and intimacy of the account varies as the narrative voice shifts between first, second and third person. Paul scrupulously questions the accuracy of his memory, and muses on the 'familiar question...