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Customer Reviews for

The Sea

Average Rating 4
( 53 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

remarkable character study

Middle aged Irishman Max Morden mourns deeply the loss of his wife Anna. Needing to escape the overwhelming memories and though fifty years have passed since he has been there, Max retreats to the Cedars, a house that was the summer home of the Graces, who strongly inf...
Middle aged Irishman Max Morden mourns deeply the loss of his wife Anna. Needing to escape the overwhelming memories and though fifty years have passed since he has been there, Max retreats to the Cedars, a house that was the summer home of the Graces, who strongly influenced him when he was a child. He takes a room there hiding from his normal now dispirited life. --- Max thinks back to that summer when the affluent Graces vacationed at the Cedars. They ┬┐adopted┬┐ him as their personal waif for those glorious months. Though the parents, the authoritative father and the real family ruler the mother treated him nicely, the twin daughters Chloe and Myles were his connection. He compares that time with the lingering illness until death do us part of his spouse and his daughter Claire. Worried about her dad, Claire tries to help Max overcome his depression but he wants to sink deeper into the past when death was something adults dealt with and youngsters like him blithely played all day without a care in the world. --- THE SEA runs fathoms deep as the audience obtains a remarkable character study that focuses on an individual who in spite of expecting the Grim Reaper to call cannot cope when the visit occurs. Max is morbid and melancholy as he mourns his loss and cannot cope with it while his daughter can readily see his angst but has no concept on how to return her dad to the living. Readers will sympathize with Max, but wonder whether the past will engulf his present and future or will he realize those idyllic days had woes too that his memories chose to discriminately ignore. --- Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on December 9, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

This won the Booker Prize?????????

This is the third book of Banville's I have read and I will never read another. His characters are consistently depressing and world-loathing, his story lines and plots are very lightweight although he seems to enjoys creating an over emphasis on sounds, tastes, smells ...
This is the third book of Banville's I have read and I will never read another. His characters are consistently depressing and world-loathing, his story lines and plots are very lightweight although he seems to enjoys creating an over emphasis on sounds, tastes, smells and most everyting else that has no true relevance to the story itself. He has a certain proclivity to overwriting simple scenes and thoughts to needlessly elongated, tedious pages of overblown prose. He also has a certain fetish for throwing in arcane and little used words every page or two, perhaps to demonstrate the range of his thesaurus. Regardless, he has somehow gained a reputation that is considerably larger and better than his writing in anyway deserves. Pass on this and you won't resent the loss of money you spent on this small, insignicant book

posted by Anonymous on March 30, 2006

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2012

    Joining SeaClan

    My name is Rushpaw.Can I join SeaClan?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    Wavestar to Nighthawk

    Yes you can join

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    ThunderStorm

    Can i join the clan im a silver she cat

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    Rainwillow

    Hi,my name is rainwillow, and i want to join seaclan.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    Ruinclaw

    I am Ruinclaw, and i need a clan. I am a brown tabby with blue eyes. I wish to join Seaclan.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Hawkeyes

    Id like to join seaclan im hawkeyes, btw im a she cat

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    A Slow, Pleasurable Read

    I had the distinct pleasure of reading this short, beautiful book aloud to my son. To be fair, he's but an infant, so perhaps he couldn't have cared less what I was reading... However, it was quite the enjoyable experience for me to take it all in at a slow pace.

    I will not summarize the plot, as that has been done by other reviewers. Let me just say that _The Sea_ was deserving of the prestigious Booker Prize and perhaps one of the best Booker-winning books I've read. This book should be slowly read and enjoyed by many and I'm thrilled to have been introduced to a new author (previously unknown to me). I will be sending copies as gifts, as _The Sea_ comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this reader.

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  • Posted April 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fluid Memory

    Reminiscent to me, strangely, of Ian McEwan's "On Chesil Beach," John Banville's "The Sea" meditates on memory and death, and the unexpectedly circular connections, the meaningful bringing back, we seek to embed a purpose in our time on earth. The books ponders, and encourages pondering, as art critic Max layers his lost wife, his ever present mortality, and the ache of simultaneous discovery and loss that defined his childhood, like transparencies, until the effort to distinguish one event from another becomes a process of surgery rather than selectively setting each moment aside. This fluidity seems the titular Sea - the inability to separate those most important moments, in reality or remembrance, from the flow of all we experience and know, and from the wonder of our self-discovery and self-recognition, even as those defining moments reveal us to be less than we believed. We are shifted by this force in ways we cannot make sense of, and, by giving over to memory, lost within our ever-present understanding of all that we are and all that we are denied. (Also posted at Goodreads.)

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Only through grief does one truly know oneself. . .

    A beautiful book about a less than lovable man. At first glance, the flowery language and overuse of adverbs was annoying; however, the reader discovers that this writing style was less a grammatical or stylistic error, but more of a literary device that John Banville utilized to show the character of the protagonist narrator, Max Morden, an art historian from working classes origins. Morden, a social climber since childhood, recounts a unique relationship he had as a child with a set of twins met while on vacation on the seashore in Ireland. After his wife dies of cancer, he escapes to the recesses of his memory and replays this relationship as well as the events that led to its harrowing end. The novel is a wondrous meditation on memory, grief and the shock of self-awareness found later in life and the regrets that may follow. If the reader has experienced the grief of the loss of a dearly missed loved one, this novel is a "must read."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2008

    A reviewer

    OK story, it mostly kept my attention but it did seem to drag. I was really surprised to read it was so highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2007

    snobbish

    I do not think it is a sign of good literature when while reading you constantly catch your mind wandering away from the story.... I forced myself to read it for our book club, but I find the style pretentious, the main character revolting, the story non-existent.... so what is the point? That he knows all the words in the dictionary?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    Deeply satisfying

    I saw this book on the New York Literary Society's recommended reading list and thought to give it a try. I am so glad that I did. I haven't felt this satisfied with a book in a long time. John Banville is poetic and deep. I strongly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2006

    Banville's Booker at last

    Although one must say that most of Banville's novels seem to our senses as the darkest of all the genre (and Bookers), I have to confess that I find the light of his works not in the obvious, but in the sublime that goes farther away than the lines and what is roughly said. Banville expects his readers to do 60% of the work, and that is what is remarkable about him and his works. He wants us to think, to wonder, not everything has to come previously chewed. Not to say the prose, a pleasure to read. He is one of the most serious artists working in Europe today and his work, his vision of art, counts. Not much superficiality is seen, if the reader doesn't fall into the obvious. 'The Sea' is an amazing novel of hidden meaning and reasonable size, like a piece of music in which its notes are more real to some people than to others. I enjoyed it very much. Perhaps not yet his novelistic masterwork, but undoubtly the beginning of his prose's extraordinary long achievement. Not to be distracted by it, so watch out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2006

    Almost Shameful

    The dust cover on this book states the author is the heir to Nabokov. If this shameful comparison had not been made perhaps I would have enjoyed this book more. If you're familiar, in depth, with VN then I believe you'll read it like me and see the glaring attempt to copy a character and style that is simply not 'copyable'. If you're not familiar with Nabokov then I recommend this book. The sexual connnation of the young protaginist with the older mother on the beach reminded me too much of a reverse Lolita and simply reaffirmed my early suspicions. If found this to be language looking for a story, not a story looking for a delivery vehicle.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2005

    '...just another of the great world's shrugs of indifference.'

    John Banville is a poet, a wordsmith without current peer, a writer of such extraordinary gifts that he dwells in his own stratosphere. He is able to distill a life's story in a thin novel, yet in the telling of that story uncover more nuances about time and the paths left by incidental occurrences that pepper the life cycle with such beauty of language and sensitivity to nuances of character and place and moment that reading his book becomes one of life's luxuries. He is simply a master of his craft. The story is simple: one man's life, inconsequential by Max Morden's own admission, is told from the vantages of a childhood unveiled from imbedded memories, from the recent past from which he is in mourning from the death of his wife Anna, and from the present when accompanied by his only child Claire he returns to The Cedars, once the home of the Grace family - Mr Grace, Mrs Grace for whom he felt his first passion, their twins Myles and Chloe with Chloe being his first love, and the governess Rose - a place where fifty years ago he spent an indelible summer with the events that shaped his psyche and life, yet now is a dumpy apartment house run by two old folks who watch him drink away his grieving days. With incredible skill Banville weaves his story from three vantages, each uncovering or explaining the climax of the story that awaits the last pages of the novel to intricately weave together. Banville meditates on death in every manifestation that portion of the life cycle takes, and yet he does so with such avoidance of the morbid or maudlin and with every bow to the mystery that death as an occurrence leaves in its path that his views enhance us. His 'style' of writing includes conversing with his reader, pausing to apologize for possibly misusing words or definitions or time frame lapses, a manner of writing that brings the reader in such close proximity with the characters and the incidents, the landscapes and the moods that reading this book at any but a very slow pace would be a grievous error. But how does one review a book as perfect as this? One doesn't. It is sufficient to invite lovers of great literature to share the hallowed space contained in THE SEA. Brilliant! Grady Harp

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    Posted August 10, 2009

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    Posted November 1, 2014

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    Posted May 27, 2009

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    Posted October 27, 2008

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    Posted September 2, 2009

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