The Sea By John Banville
Winner of the 2005 Man Booker Prize - and just released now in paperback. This is an exquisite book by a masterful writer. It is quite late in the novel when the narrator asks the question “who, if not myself, was I”. It is the question he has been asking throughout the novel as the reader has been wondering the same thing - or more precisely, what happened to the boy you were?
The boy who, 50 years earlier, spent a summer by the sea, the sea that he has now returned to in the days immediately following the death of his wife.
It was by the sea that an event occurred that forever influenced the man, Max, and determined who he became. Is it regret or guilt that haunts Max?
Or is it simply that as an adult, the man can now understand some of what happened to the child, in a way the child could not. We, the readers, know that something of immense importance happened when Max was a boy, but is it very slowly revealed.
Max remembers those days while staying in a guest house by the sea - the very same house he knew as a child.
I don't want to spoil the suspense, which is an integral part of this novel.
The reader will find out at the book’s conclusion what happened - it is, and is not, what might be expected.
The writing is exquisite, his questions profound, and the atmosphere absorbing. It is a novel to be read without distraction, to be savoured and thought about afterwards, for it to settle and for it's simplicity to reveal its many facets.