“Audio book narrated by Richard Morant
A middle-aged man faces the past he thought was behind him. Tony Webster narrates the tale. He begins by going back to his youth and relating the tale of his best school chums and his first serious girlfriend. Part Two moves forward some four decades, and Tony is now an established professional, amicably divorced and a grandfather. A surprise legacy forces him to re-examine his youth and the decisions and actions he took then.
The first Julian Barns novel I read was the historical Arthur and George. This is very different, and yet still focuses on one man’s decisions and moral compass. Our hero is likeable but so naïve … obtuse … insensitive. I can’t quite put my finger on it. He really doesn’t get it; until, suddenly he does. Of course, we have to listen to his thought process, feel his pain and joy, puzzle through the false clues, and hope that he, and we, have taken the right path.
I do not want to give anything away, so I have to be somewhat circumspect, but I was completely caught off guard when Tony realized the significance of certain events. When I had finished, I went back and listened again to the first two discs … oh, there are so many clues and much foreshadowing. One book club is discussing it this month. Another is discussing it in June; I’ll be happy to re-read it in a few months and relish in Barnes’s wonderful writing and character study.
Richard Morant does a very good of the audio, though I did find myself lulled into a sort of trance a few times by his deep and consistent voice. I had to keep “rewinding;” I frequently felt that I had missed something important. Frankly, I’m not certain this would be any different had I read the text. It’s a short novel, but it demands the reader’s undivided attention.