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The Sea
     

The Sea

3.9 54
by John Banville
 

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In this luminous new novel about love, loss, and the unpredictable power of memory, John Banville introduces us to Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child to cope with the recent loss of his wife. It is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled family with whom he

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The Sea 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not a book with an entertaining plot. It is a fairly easy read but it is more like a momentary investigation of memory. A study of sudden hopelessness. A fragment of life when it becomes too overwhelming to live. I see it as a report from a period in life when things stand still and it is not clear what will happen next. A time when all one can do is to take a deep breath and wait. In those times it is natural to look back and reread pages one's life has written so far. Not that such a reminiscence improves a lot in the present moment but we can feel too paralyzed by grief to do anything else but keep rewinding the already recorded tape of our mind. So do not expect a lot of action because nothing too startling is going to happen. However, Banville skillfully weaves a few threads into a carpet of the past that safely carries us on our expedition where we visit the life of a middle aged man Max. Maybe not unless you suffered patches of total loneliness in your own life will you be able to suffer the melancholy of Max(Morden), a man now over 50 yo whose wife Anne recently died, a process that took a year. Grieving he returns to a place by the sea where he spent a memorable summer as a child and encountered a well off family called Graces. They too were there on their vacation that didn't end happily. The characters that are introduced in the book serve as a background to Max and his attempt to deal with his feeling of abandonment. A witness to oneself fallen apart. Banville ambitiously uses some elaborate vocabulary so have a OED at hand. 'The truth is, it all has begun to run together, past and possible future and impossible present.'
ellemorgan More than 1 year ago
You definitely can't breeze through Banville's writing; his words demand to be savored.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Sea on the recommendation of a reviewer that claimed it was a good book about grieving like Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking. Wrong. I didn't care about the characters. Everything and everyone spanned between dismal and boring. I see no greatness in Banville's writing. He seems to be a disturbed individual. This book was the equivalence of sticking a pencil in your eye.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mingy is the Brit word for this book (a combination of stingy and mean?). The main character and his daughter have no appeal and his fine writing about an Irish coastal holiday resort is boring. I gave up after 100 pages.
manbooker1989 More than 1 year ago
The man in the story is confused and tries to go back to understand. The past is mixed with the present and the lives of the select few he choses to depict. Love and hate, wonderment and resentment. It is as much a growing-up story as it is a story of self-realization. As one reads the first part one gets a feel for the book, but it was like molasses, in its own right. But the book has a vibe to it that makes the last 100 pages or so, not so bad. Verily, at first, I was thrown off the wonderful prose by the use of large and un-orderly words. His flow is nice and the story is told with shady undertones, brilliantly used. I must say that it took me by surprise when I read it. Though I am reserved in my praise, for I believe no one likes to look up a word every page, I will say that every-so-often a smooth passage would give me a chill and delight would intermingle with the wonder at the beautiful words. The characters are very real and have different personalities that bring them to life, changing the scene or increasing the tension of a moment just by being there. Banville is wonderful with allusions, though not always know, are very impressive. One might say that it is just fluff or description, but the description mimics the characters and portents are shown clearly, if not subtlety, through the petulant power of the sea. A story is told; maybe not poignantly seen at first, but it is there with a bare transparent film of skin. Certainly an enjoyable, read and most likely a vocabulary-increaser. The more times I read it the better I like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tink2 More than 1 year ago
One of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Banville clearly loves language and knows how to use it with breathtaking skill.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THE SEA is an absolutely fascinating book, a tragic but beautiful short novel.Written in a rich but clear language, it takes the reader through a breath-taking journey that climaxes to a satisfying and surprising conclusion.Like all true great books, THE SEA is a novel you enjoy with increasing depth as you read it again and again .As far-reaching as Shades of Fire,as sobering as Kite Runner, as despairingly hopeful as The Union Moujik,and as gripping as NIGHT, the story of THE SEA will stick in your mind long after you read it.
Jack13152 More than 1 year ago
Worth the effort to keep going and finish it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where is Creekkit and Rosekit?!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
prenoun More than 1 year ago
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.)
Lagniappe_Literature More than 1 year ago
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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