I bought this the day I saw the film – which I enjoyed, even if the ending seemed a little too lovey-cuddly too quick – because there were plot strands I didn’t quite get and I was hoping the book would clarify them. (I regularly reach the end of a book or a film and ask: ‘ So did the bishop’s daughter really betray the foundlings to the Secret Police and become a hired assassin hiding in a deserted Brazilian tower block out of shame? Or was she trained by ninjas from birth?)
Well, the book didn’t clear up all that much; I had to resort to Wikipedia to work out who did what to whom. For all that, I liked it. It’s brief, well-written ( as are all Julian Barnes’ books) and full of good insights into the characters. But it also seems to be yet another in the long, long, endless line of Marriage Is Hell And Everyone’s A Liar Or Victim genre. (The film 45 Years is another example.) Life isn’t always Hell. Or Betrayal. One day I’m really hoping to come across a story from an award-winning Literary writer that finds the good in friendship and marriage. And celebrates it!