Book for May 2019
It's the early 1960ies. Narrator Paul Roberts introduces himself as a 19-year-old undergraduate returning to his parents' house in the southern suburbs of London. At the tennis club, in a random-draw mixed doubles, Paul is thrown together with Susan MacLeod, a 48-year-old married woman with two daughters. Paul and Susan become lovers, she eventually leaves her family to set up house with Paul in South London. Having nothing to do but a little housekeeping, Susan descends into alcoholism and dementia. Paul concludes that pain is an inevitable concomitant of love, and wonders if he'd have been happier if he'd loved less, and presumably therefore brought less pain on himself and Susan. He embarks on foreign travels, picking up jobs and women at random.
Paul admits that memory is unreliable and he may not be telling the truth in this story.
The Only Story was first published in 2018
Barnes has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. Barnes is one of the best-loved English writers in France, where he has won several literary prizes, including the Prix Médicis for Flaubert’s Parrot and the Prix Femina for Talking It Over. He is an officer of L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.