The Only Story
I bought The Only Story for several reasons. It was a small, compact hardcover package of the type I like to hold. It was relatively short (250 pages), which meant I could easily finish it in a weekend. It was about the love affair between a 19-year-old boy and a 48-year-old married woman, and May-December romances intrigue me. Mostly, though, I bought it because it was by Julian Barnes, whose novel, The Sense of an Ending, won the Man Booker Prize. I didn’t read that one. I felt I should read this one.
On the plus side, Barnes is a skilled wordsmith. His phrasing is sparse, but this is always inspirational for me.
And there you have it, the only good thing I can say about this book. Characterization was minimal. There was a ton of introspection and philosophizing by the main voice, that of the male character who is now in his seventies and looking back on his love for this woman. Honestly? This character, Paul, was self-absorbed and arrogant. Not once did he take the blame for driving this woman he loved to drink. He treated his parents like dirt. He was eminently unlikeable and, therefore, deserving of his fate, which was to truly fizzle into a shadow of the man he might have been.
There was no growth in this book, just a wallowing in self-pity. I didn’t find it enlightening in the least.