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, Literature

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...
  • Larry H
    "First love fixes a life forever: this much I have discovered over the years. It may not outrank subsequent loves, but they will always be affected by its existence. It may serve as model, or as counterexample. It may overshadow subsequent loves; on the other hand, it can make them easier, better. Though sometimes, first love cauterises the heart, and all any searcher will find thereafter is scar tissue."When Paul was 19 years old and visiting hi...
  • 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...
  • Elyse
    I recently read a sentence in another book that stayed with me.“There comes a time in every man’s life when he looks back more than forward”. ( fitting in Julian Barnes “The Only Story”)This book is as much - about a man’s memories - fading memories as well-than it is about love. “He sometimes asked himself a question about life. Which were truer, the happy memories, or unhappy ones? He decided, eventually, that the question was una...
  • 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...
  • Michael
    From some late state in mature life, Paul finds he still believes that “love is the only story” and feels compelled to tell the story of how in his youth at 19 years he took up fulfilling that mission with gusto in his love for one Susan McLeod. That she was nearly 30 years older than him made for some interesting challenges to his ideals. Though we’ve seen age disparities in books and movies before, I’ll admit it was a challenge for me t...
  • James
    ‘The Only Story’ (2018) by Julian Barnes tells the story of one man – Paul and the one love, the only story, the single relationship that defines him, that determines his path in life.There are echoes here of Barnes’ brilliant ‘Sense of an Ending’ – to which ‘Only Story’ is most definitely a worthy successor, but the two are both very different books, different stories to be told. In ‘Only Story’ Barnes is mapping the human ...
  • 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. ...
  • 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...
  • Dianne
    "In love. everything is both true and false; it's the one subject on which it's impossible to say anything absurd."This is a lusciously written meditation on love by the incomparable Julian Barnes. The story is a simple one; an older man ruminates on his first love and the consequences rendered upon his life - but this telling is all about the journey, the truths being discovered and pondered, the gentle unraveling of a life and love gone by.I lo...
  • Wen
    A maverick 19-year-old Paul falls head over heels for a 48-year-old Susan who he sees as an age-agnostic free-spirit, and who's non-assuming manner always elevates his confidence. . The story drags on from here, even after the woman turns out as an impostor. Regardless of that, we can all imagine that the initial luster fades over time as the boy grows up. The romantic love, "absolute' as in theory, is called upon to cement the decade-long respon...
  • 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....
  • Ellie
    Paul meets Susan in a suburb in England in the 1960s. It's love. Only problem: he's 19 and she's 48.Thus begins a decades long love affair that is destroyed not by the age difference (although maybe indirectly so: Susan's much longer life experience has left her, in fact, more vulnerable than Paul). There are the gifts of love--and the sacrifices.I finished this yesterday and waited until today to write this review, to see if I still felt the sam...
  • foteini_dl
    [2.5-3*, δεν έχω καταλήξει ακόμα.] Όμως, αυτή είναι η φύση των σχέσεων, όλων των σχέσεων: πάντοτε φαίνεται να υπάρχει κάποια ανισορροπία, του ενός ή του άλλου είδους. Αυτή η φράση ταιριάζει για να περιγράψει και τη σχέση μου με το τελευταίο πόνημα του Barn...
  • 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...
  • Roger Brunyate
     Three-person'd Love For instance, he thought he probably wouldn't have sex again before he died. Probably. Possibly. Unless. But on balance, he thought not. Sex involved two people. Two persons, first person and second person: you and I, you and me. But nowadays, the raucousness of the first person within him was stilled. It was as if he viewed, and lived, his life in the third person. Which allowed him to assess it more accurately, he believed...
  • 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...
  • Rebecca Foster
    (Nearly 4.5) A familiar story: a May–December romance fizzles out. A sad story: an idealistic young man who swears he’ll never be old and boring has to face that this romance isn’t all he wanted it to be. A love story nonetheless. And, as Paul believes, we each only really get one love story, and it will without a doubt be the defining story of our lives. When he met Susan, a 48-year-old, married mother of two, at the local tennis club when...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • Ron Charles
    Julian Barnes’s slim, grim new novel, “The Only Story,” will remind fans of “A Sense of an Ending,” which won the Booker Prize in 2011. Like that elegiac novel, his new book concerns an older man who looks back with a pained sense of culpability at a relationship in his youth. Perhaps for some authors of a certain age — Barnes is now 72 — doleful nostalgia becomes the only story.The narrator, Paul, confesses at the opening that he...
  • Diane Barnes
    3.5 stars. I love Julian Barnes because he's such an intelligent writer, and thereby makes me feel like an intelligent reader. This was no different, but I found it hard to connect emotionally with the story of a 19 year old boy who falls in love with a 48 year old woman. To me, it was less a story about love than one about maturing and learning that loves does not conquer all, but life certainly does.
  • Tooter
    I wish this book hadn't been so drawn out and boring in the last 50% because Julian Barnes writing is absolutely beautiful.
  • 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...
  • 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...