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Book Review: “Elizabeth Finch” by Julian Barnes

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To be published by Random House on August 16

I was lucky enough to see the email from NetGalley when it came in and immediately requested the book since there were only to be 200 readers.

Julian Barnes has written twenty four previous books and I have read most of them, so as soon as I could open it I started reading it – and read it straight through in a couple of hours. It is written as a memoir by a man at the end of his life recalling being enraptured by a woman at an adult education course, whose method of teaching both challenges and fascinates him. He goes to all her lectures, fails to deliver the one required essay at the end, but then he is the king of unfinished projects – but they continue to meet, for lunch on a regular basis. Later he tries to memorialize her, and thus himself, but to do that he has to deal with the history she was teaching. I must admit that I had never heard of Julian the Apostate – but I suppose for Julian Barnes he must have had good reason to learn all about him. So in reading this book there is quite a lot of both real and imagined history. It turns out that there really was a Venetian painter called Carpaccio – so that wasn’t what I initially thought. It makes me wonder if there really was an Elizabeth Finch. No, but there are already many reviews on line.

I have to admit that I do have quite a few books that I have started but failed to get involved enough to care about. It is not often when I start and finish a book at one sitting. It is 192 pages. It is also quite difficult to not reveal too much by writing about it. What I do think is that this will be another winner for Barnes. And since it is now probably too late for you to get in on the “first 200” list you will have to wait for August. But it will be worth it.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 15, 2022 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Fiction