The adolescent Christopher and his soul mate Toni had sneered at the stifling ennui of Metroland, their cosy patch of suburbia on the Metropolitan line. They had longed for Life to begin - meaning Sex and Freedom - to travel and choose their own clothes.
Then Chris, at thirty, starts to settle comfortably into bourgeois contentment himself. Luckily, Toni is still around to challenge such backsliding.
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By Matthew on 14-01-14
Gosh I love Julian Barnes
Yes, I’ve been living under a rock—I only recently discovered Barnes through his most recent novel, "The Sense of an Ending" (2011). I couldn’t wait to dig into his back catalogue, and thought a sensible place to start would be the very beginning i.e. "Metroland".
Thematically, Barnes doesn’t seem to have strayed too far from his sweetspot over his 31 year career… my review for "Sense" noted themes of “memory, remorse, history, philosophy, secrets and lies” and this could literally be copy-pasted into my review of "Metroland" without arousing suspicion.
For my money, "Metroland" was more of a slowburner—a little sluggish to get moving but deeply satisfying by the end. It was profoundly uncomfortable to recognise some cringey parts of myself in Chris. But even more so to recognise bits of me in the incredibly prickly Toni.
Now that I’ve experienced Barnes’ bookend novels, I’ve concluded his true gift is in creating mundane and disappointed worlds with overt lack of sympathy that—somewhat paradoxically—leaves the reader with a sense of gentle optimism. Not a small feat.
Can’t wait to throw myself into "Flaubert’s Parrot".
As for this specific audioversion, Greg Wise is fantastic and sublime.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful