After the bestselling Arthur & George and Nothing to Be Frightened Of, Julian Barnes returns with fourteen stories about longing and loss, friendship and love, whose mysterious natures he examines with his trademark wit and observant eye. From an imperial capital in the eighteenth century to Garibaldi's adventures in the nineteenth, from the vineyards of Italy to the English seaside in our time, he finds the "stages, transitions, arguments" that define us. A newly divorced real estate agent can't resist invading his reticent girlfriend's privacy, but the information he finds reveals only his callously shallow curiosity. A couple come together through an illicit cigarette and a song shared over the din of a Chinese restaurant. A widower revisiting the Scottish island he'd treasured with his wife learns how difficult it is to purge oneself of grief. And throughout, friends gather regularly at dinner parties and perfect the art of cerebral, sometimes bawdy banter about the world passing before them.Whether domestic or extraordinary, each story pulses with the resonance, spark, and poignant humor for which Barnes is justly heralded.
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by Julian Barnes
by Amber Sparks
by Alexander McCall Smith
"Julian Barnes comes across as a British Updike in these literate but accessible stories--some funny, some sad, most about contemporary upper-middle-class Brits. David Rintoul's narration, fluid, polished, engaging, accentuates their entertainment value; he collaborates with Barnes, and they become storytellers together. His somewhat growly voice is a fine, flexible tool that suits the varieties of text, harsh or delicate, emotional or quietly objective, as needed. In some long dialogue exchanges, one can't tell who's who, but that's the text, not Rintoul. His tactic for women's voices, a shift in tone, is usually effective but occasionally misleading, and his American accent is good, not great; one is aware that he's "doing an accent." But quibbles aside, this program is a great pleasure, intelligent and urbane. W.M. (c) AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine"
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