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
ISBN9781473554795
Author
Release DateFeb 1st, 2018
PublisherVintage Digital
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, European Literature, British Literature, Novels
Rating

Reviews The Only Story

  • Adina
    2018-01-31
    .“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...
  • Neil
    2017-10-30
    "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
    2017-12-22
    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...
  • Gumble's Yard
    2018-01-04
    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
    2018-01-09
    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 ...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    2018-01-31
    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.
  • Claire Fuller
    2017-12-15
    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
    2018-01-28
    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...
  • Paula Sealey
    2018-01-13
    Paul, now in his later years, is looking back on his first love, or, as he calls it, 'The Only Story'. As a 19 year old, he embarked on a relationship with Susan, a 48 year old married lady who he met at the local village tennis club. The book follows them through their bittersweet journey as Paul reminisces and attempts to examine and make sense of the complexities of love. Characterised with real depth and feeling, I was swept along with Paul's...
  • Sid Nuncius
    2018-02-03
    I thought The Only Story was excellent in some parts but that it lost its way a little. It is, of course, beautifully written throughout with some very poignant observations but struggled to carry the story through to its end.The story begins with a nineteen-year-old Paul in the mid-1960s in a "respectable" Surrey village, who falls for and eventually begins an affair with an older, married woman whom he meets at the Tennis Club. Julian Barnes us...
  • Anne
    2018-01-06
    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...
  • Joseph
    2018-01-17
    Julian Barnes's latest novel sets out its agenda from its very first paragraph: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.And then, soon after we are told:Most of us have only one story to tell. I don't mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives... But there's only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine.But here's th...
  • Katy Noyes
    2018-01-16
    Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds...3.5 stars Not a line (or indeed sonnet) which allows for real life circumstances, for everyday men and women. Love is different things to different people, as this novella shows. Barnes is always tightly in control of his words, saying in a couple of hundred pages what others may struggle to keep to double that length, and I admire him for that. This is quite tight but still a complete over...
  • Latkins
    2017-11-18
    I really enjoyed this book, as a fan of Julian Barnes's work. It reminded me quite a bit of his Booker Prize winning The Sense Of An Ending, in that it features an old man looking back to his youth. In the early 1960s, when Paul was 19 years old, he began an affair with Susan, a 48-year-old married woman who he met at the tennis club, whilst back in the small village where his parents lived, during his holidays from university. This unusual love ...
  • Sue
    2018-01-25
    Review copy courtesy of Penguin Random House, Vintage/Jonathan Cape via NetGalley This is the second novel I have read in as many weeks featuring a romance between a very young man and a much older woman. Notable in both is the use of unusual second person narration. In this case the narration switches between the first, second and third person voices and a very effective technique it is too. We see the relationship between Paul and Susan in its ...
  • Mandy
    2018-02-07
    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...
  • Anne
    2018-01-06
    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 analyses the accuracy of his memory, and muses on the 'familiar question'...
  • Eleanor
    2018-02-07
    Julian Barnes. I have decided that he, like his character Susan in this novel, is a member of "a played-out generation", except he appears to have retained his ability to write a good sentence untainted by the corrosive tang of bitterness. Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie: all have fallen, at one point or another, to their own reputations. Barnes, and possibly Graham Swift (I haven't read a recent enough book of his to know), remain on poi...
  • Moray Teale
    2018-02-05
    Sometimes the most impressive writing is the kind that sneaks up on you. Julian Barnes is undoubtedly a great writer with a keen eye for delicacies of character and an even keener eye for a finely-tuned sentence.. The premise of failed forbidden love (here a teenage boy, older married woman, the pressure to conform) and the narrative style (first-person navel-gazing that passes close to narcissism) plus the themes of suburbanism, unfulfillment ar...
  • Laura Spira
    2018-01-17
    Julian Barnes seems to have cornered the market in tales of elderly men looking back on their lives and relationships and trying to make sense of them. This book has a very similar authorial voice to The Sense of an Ending. Paul, the narrator, embarks as a nineteen year old on an affair with Susan, a married woman in her forties who he meets at the local tennis club. The relationship endures but, through Paul's retrospective description, is not a...
  • Dave
    2018-02-08
    A powerful story of first love between a 19 year old almost man who meets and falls in love with a married 48 year old woman. The first part is some of the better writing I have read about first love, the next two parts of this short novel reminded me slightly of "the sorrows of young werther" in tone, but with a modern re-telling of a different story. I loved the message of the bravado of youth and the possible lifelong consequences of recklessn...
  • Stefaan Sterck
    2018-02-12
    i
  • Elise
    2018-02-09
    Prachtig!
  • GONZA
    2018-01-18
    It's incredible, but not so much in the end, how much sadness can Barnes pack in 224 pages. As this is probably the saddest book he has ever written, and he wrote many and mostly they are all sad. That said I think that this is an incredible good book, the way the story of Susan and Paul is portrayed would be indelibly stamped in my mind with the related emotions. I didn't imagine what ride I had in front of me when I read "The only real question...
  • miss.mesmerized mesmerized
    2018-01-06
    “Would you rather love more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.”Paul looks back at his life and the love of his life, Susan. He met her when he was only 19, she, at the time, was almost 30 years older, but fascinated by the boy. She was married, had her place in society, was experienced and could teach him how to love. For years they had an affair, then they ran away,...
  • Venky
    2018-02-10
    Reading "The Only Story" by Julian Barnes is akin to setting out random thoughts on paper after ingesting a couple (or more) of high quality alcohol. The state of mind is not (yet) impaired by the beast of inebriation but is just alert and carefree enough to induce a flow of feelings and a rich vein of emotions that reek of uncanny honesty. This is the perfect state of mind, which every single drinker desires most in the present, but is extremely...
  • Nicholas Montemarano
    2018-02-05
    "The Sense of an Ending" is one of my favorite novels; it's a masterpiece of concision, elision, and several unexpected twists, one after another, in the novel's final pages; its narrator is wonderfully cheeky (and ultimately tragic). I mention this because I'm about to compare Barnes' latest, "The Only Story," with "The Sense of an Ending," unfavorably.I'm disinclined to compare a writer's novels—that is, unless the novel itself invites such c...
  • Geoffrey
    2018-02-06
    The Only StoryI’ve always been a bit impressed by Julian Barnes’ ability to capture the rather raw and real emotions of the human heart. The stories he tells, are often ones that leave you feeling a bit blue, but also triggers certain deep emotions and memories of one’s own past. The Sense of an Ending, his previous book, was certainly one that tugs at one’s heartstrings long after the short novel ends. Barnes’ latest book, The Only Sto...
  • Kees IJzerman
    2018-02-11
    A narrative allows us to get a grip on reality; a reality that without the cohesion a narration provides would seem random and haphazard. When you get older the stories that structure your life are made from an ever increasing number of memories. Memories is what this book, just like Barnes’ most successful book to date, The Sense of an Ending, is about. In short paragraphs that deal with Paul’s memories we learn about the story of his life, ...
  • Mel
    2018-01-13
    This felt like a natural progression (although unconnected) from A Sense of an Ending with its older male narrator looking back on his life and loves and a May to September relationship burgeoning at a time of social constraints that must sound archaic to younger generations - but it is much more emotionally powerful than the former title and also more reflective of time past compared to the present. It’s very English, if that makes sense, and ...