A story of obsessive young love and the power of grief, Ancient Light is the best novel yet from the Booker Prize winner of The Sea
'Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.'
Alexander Cleave, an actor who thinks his best days are behind him, remembers his first unlikely affair as a teenage boy in a small town in 1950s Ireland: the illicit meetings in a rundown cottage outside town; assignations in the back of his lover's car on sunny mornings and rain-soaked afternoons. And with these early memories comes something sharper and much darker - the more recent recollection of the actor's own daughter's suicide ten years before.
'I should like to be in love again, I should like to fall in love again, just once more.'
Ancient Light is the story of a life rendered brilliantly vivid: the obsession and selfishness of young love and the terrifying shock of grief. It is a dazzling novel, funny, utterly pleasurable and devastatingly moving in the same moment.
'He is a master, and his prose gives continuous, sensual delight' Martin Amis on John Banville
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of fourteen previous novels including The Sea, which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. He was recently awarded the Franz Kafka Prize.
Glittering visual evocation, expressed in a tone at once fresh and wistfully ironic ... a world at once random, dreamlike and deeply experienced ( The Sunday Times)
4 STARS. Banville proves here over and over that one can write with the true texture if erotic memory without resorting to titillation. He deserves to outsell Fifty Shades of Grey tenfold. ( Sunday Express)
4 STARS. Prose that lingers on every last physical and psychological detail. ( Metro)
Banville does regretful roues better than almost anyone ... His use of language can also be startlingly brilliant ... Terrific ... full of sadness and yearning. ( Sunday Telegraph)
This dazzling novel captures a long-lost adolescent world of passion and desire. ( Independent)
... ravishingly written and scrupulously observed ( Irish Times)
The Booker prize winning author - widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in English today - has produced what many already consider a literary masterpiece. ( Sunday Independent)
We now want them [novels] to provoke, cajole, edify, entertain, puzzle, divert, clarify and console. Banville's new novel does all these things and much more besides. ( Irish Independent)
Banville, with his forensic sensory memory, his great gift for textural (and textual) precision, his ability to inhabit not just a room, as a writer, but also the full weight of a breathing body, is exactly in his element here. ( Observer)
A novel criss-crossed with ghost roads and dead-ends and peopled by shifty characters who seem provisional even to themselves. It is written in Baville's customary prose, rhythmic and allusive and dense with suggestive imagery, prose and deliberately slows you down and frequently wrongfoots you. ( Guardian)
A bittersweet rumination on first love ... The language soars, full of the beauty of nature and the sadness of loss ( Marie Claire)
Banville perfectly captures the spirit of adolescence, the body yearning for sexual experience, the mind blurring eroticism and emotion ... Banville is a Nabokovian artist, his prose so rich, poetic and packed with startling imagery that reading it is akin to gliding regally through a lake of praline: it's a slow, stately process, delicious and to be savoured ... This is a luminous breathtaking work ( Independent on Sunday)
Ancient Light also bears resemblance to Lolita that extend beyond the obvious hallmark ecstatic prose..different periods of his life blending into a single meditation of breathtaking beauty and profundity on love and loss and death, the final page of which brought tears. ( The Financial Times)
A beautifully written tale of youthful passion ( Good Housekeeping)
A novel about sexual awakening and the tricks that memory plays. Banville's lushly gorgeous prose enhances a mood of brooding passion in a place of secrets ( The I)
A sumptuous novel. Read it for the sentences and smarts, and for the copious sexy parts (Richard Ford Guardian, Books of the Year)
Everything I want from a love story: sexy, convincing, baffling, funny, sad and unforgettable (Juliet Nicholson Evening Standard, "Books of the Year")
Banville's exquisitely written novel unravels the deceptions of memory with wit and pathos ( Telegraph)
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