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This was my first Julian Barnes novel, and I immensely enjoyed it. I'll be seeking out more of his work. Some other readers have complained that the concept of the alternating three different first-person narrators felt gimmicky or confusing, but I have to disagree with that. The essence of the story is simple, the real magic comes from the personal insights of these three complex and different characters. Discovering and anticipating the way each views the various situations in the plot kept me wanting more, perhaps because their reactions were all so believable. To paraphrase Gillian, Barnes takes an ordinary situation and manages to make it truly unique.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
How did the narrator detract from the book?
I had a hard time distinguishing the transitions between Steven Pacey & Alex Jennings, so I often got confused as to which character was speaking. That got in the way of my enjoyment of a good book. I picked it because I had enjoyed The Sense of an Ending (not available on Audible).
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Really enjoyed this book, a window into the lives of ordinary people in some way. Characters which aren’t likeable but you want to hear from. Narration was excellent, like hearing a play. Lots of humour and I love Barnes way with words.
It could have done with being a little shorter is my only criticism - the Val section seemed superfluous but maybe there was some intricacy that I missed in that part. Overall, great listen.
Is there anything you would change about this book?
I would make it more emotionally engaging, make characters more interesting and sympathetic, so I could care about them. Of course not every book need to be emotionally engaging and it's characters likable. It could be cold analysis of human behaviour, but I don't think it was the intention of the author.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
Although the ending is quite violent it left me indifferent. It clearly suggest that a sequel is coming.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
It is hard to distinguish immediately who is talking Stuart or Oliver. It takes some time to observe 'Oh this is Stuart/Oliver talking!' I didn't like their interpretation of their characters, especially, often excessively brash. Also it doesn't help that the interpreter of the female main character Gillian do also, her mother, landlady, hotel owner etc. All in first-person voice.
Do you think Talking It Over needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
Obviously, as I mentioned above, it ends like the end of a first volume of a novel, but I doubt I'll be interested in follow up.
Any additional comments?
I bought this book after listening excellent The Sense of an Ending and I expected something on this level but I was dearly disappointed.