Ancient Light by John Banville

63%

6 Critic Reviews

Mr. Banville's account of the affair is so vivid, the characters so fully realized, that it eclipses the rest of the book.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea gives us a brilliant, profoundly moving new novel about an actor in the twilight of his life and his career: a meditation on love and loss, and on the inscrutable immediacy of the past in our present lives.

Is there any difference between memory and invention? That is the question that fuels this stunning novel, written with the depth of character, the clarifying lyricism and the sly humor that have marked all of John Banville’s extraordinary works. And it is the question that haunts Alexander Cleave, an actor in the twilight of his career and of his life, as he plumbs the memories of his first—and perhaps only—love (he, fifteen years old, the woman more than twice his age, the mother of his best friend; the situation impossible, thrilling, devouring and finally devastating) . . . and of his daughter, lost to a kind of madness of mind and heart that Cleave can only fail to understand. When his dormant acting career is suddenly, inexplicably revived with a movie role portraying a man who may not be who he says he is, his young leading lady—famous and fragile—unwittingly gives him the opportunity to see with aching clarity the “chasm that yawns between the doing of a thing and the recollection of what was done.”

Ancient Light is a profoundly moving meditation on love and loss, on the inscrutable immediacy of the past in our present lives, on how invention shapes memory and memory shapes the man. It is a book of spellbinding power and pathos from one of the greatest masters of prose at work today.


This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
 

About John Banville

See more books from this Author
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His first book, Long Lankin, was published in 1970. His other books are Nightspawn, Birchwood, Doctor Copernicus, Kepler, The Newton Letter, Mefisto, The Book of Evidence (which was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize), Ghosts, Athena, The Untouchable, and Eclipse. He lives in Dublin.
 
Published October 2, 2012 by Vintage. 306 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Ancient Light
All: 6 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 3

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Christopher Benfey on Nov 09 2012

With his fancy prose style, reminiscent of Humbert Humbert, studded with byzantine adjectives like “horrent” and “leporine,” Cleave could be mistaken for a word-drunk writer or a garrulous professor.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Jun 23 2012

Cleverness is on display, and nothing might be quite what it seems, but Banville's duty of care, to the emotional lives of his characters, to the worlds in which they live, is not neglected for a moment.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Alex Clark on Jun 22 2012

It is written in Banville's customary prose, rhythmic and allusive and dense with suggestive imagery, prose that deliberately slows you down and frequently wrongfoots you.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by MOIRA HODGSON on Oct 05 2012

Mr. Banville's account of the affair is so vivid, the characters so fully realized, that it eclipses the rest of the book.

Read Full Review of Ancient Light | See more reviews from WSJ online

NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Stevie Godson on Oct 02 2012

Sadly, the most extraordinary aspect of Man Booker prizewinner John Banville’s latest book—its pungently honest sex scenes—are ruined by what they actually portray...pedophilia wrapped up in fancy words.

Read Full Review of Ancient Light | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Alex Good on Oct 12 2012

This truly is a remarkable journey, made the more impressive by all of its slow, small steps.

Read Full Review of Ancient Light | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for Ancient Light
75%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 149 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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