Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Before She Met Me” as Want to Read:
Before She Met Me
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Before She Met Me

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,645 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Graham was an historian: he was meant to be an expert on the past. But there were aspects of it, he discovered, that couldn't be subdued, that simply carried on, lively and painful, as if they were the present. He began to mind. He minded very much indeed.

While those around him look on - with concern, with contempt, with amusement - Graham's meticulous passion gradually be
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 18th 2005 by Picador USA (first published 1982)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Before She Met Me, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Before She Met Me

The Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesLevels of Life by Julian BarnesA History of the World in 10½ Chapters by Julian BarnesFlaubert's Parrot by Julian BarnesNothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
Rate Julian Barnes Books
10th out of 22 books — 9 voters
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsGoodnight, and Thanks for the Vodka by HarpieWe Got Zombies On The Lawn Again, Ma by Donnie  SmithWood, Talc and Mr. J by Chris   RoseRight Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
The funniest books I ever read
260th out of 331 books — 196 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,672)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Paul Bryant
Sep 01, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
The moral of this book, which applies mostly to women, is that you should not get married to someone who, if they discover by accident that you had an earlier career as a porn actress which you had felt, quite understandably, that you didn't need to mention, will go very quietly mad, so quietly that there will be no signs that you should get the hell out of the house.

It may be a very good moral but it's not so useful, I think. I mean, you can hardly ask your affianced gentleman "Just imagine for
Aug 18, 2014 Teresa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I reviewed England, England, I wrote that it was the first time I'd given a Barnes less than 4 stars. This is now the first time I've given one of his works less than 3 stars. I plan on reading them all, so I hope to never give one only a single star.

Barnes explores retrospective obsessive sexual jealousy to its ridiculous extreme, and to an inevitable (?) conclusion, but reading about the sexual act (and that's basically all this is about -- why isn't Graham jealous about other things conc
Feb 15, 2016 Deea rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody. You are wasting your time reading this.
This was the crappiest and most annoying book I read in the last year. I didn't think Barnes was capable of ever writing such poor quality novels.
Apr 07, 2016 Bookfreak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Διεισδυτική ψυχολογική μελέτη της ανθρώπινης ζήλειας.
Feb 17, 2008 Andy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: erotic fiction, Richard E. Grant fans
Shelves: kool-imports
A semi-creepy erotic novel about a neurotic wimp who discovers his second wife had a short lived career in low-budget sex comedies (she never told him) so he obsessively investigates her past sex life. There are times when the story’s amusing and times when it’s just plain irritating.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS BOOK: This book would make a good BBC America TV movie with Richard E. Grant playing the nutty husband. I could see him making this story entertaining, otherwise we’re doomed.
Apr 18, 2012 Sean rated it it was amazing
I could have used this book when I was 19/20. I wouldn't have been any less crazy, but at least I would have known I wasn't the only guy with serious, serious jealousy issues. This book and Portnoy's Complaint are all women need to know about men. If you still like us in the morning, you're brave indeed.
Mirela Vasile (Dinny)
Păcat de coperta asta frumoasa. Două stele pentru ea și pentru ceva ce încă nu mi-e clar. Poate pentru răbdarea de a o termina.

L.E. Am cumparat cartea asta in primul rand ca sa vad ce-i mai poate capul autorului, dupa ce "Iubire etc." ma impresionase destul de puternic si in al doilea rand datorita copertii minunate dupa gustul meu.
Am ramas cu o coperta frumoasa in biblioteca (si cu cartea, caci totusi n-am distrus-o :P ) si cu parerea de rau pentru banii dati (reducere, totusi, din fericire), c
Jan 05, 2013 Zornitsa rated it it was ok
I have never read something so flat from Barnes. It just failed to move - on and on, the meaningless obsession of the unappealing protagonist, a man switching to a younger, peroxide wife then feeling uncontrollably jealous of her past. Other characters were just as unpleasant - the bimbo herself, the writer friend with his fart jokes, the calculating first wife...
I love Barnes for an elegance that sometimes means depth, like a precision tool you'd use to extract something from a hard-to-reach pl
Jan 24, 2013 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss,
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger:
But O, what damnèd minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!

Othello: O misery!

Torn between affection and anxiety, and suspicious of his wife's tendency towards infidelity and riddled with retrospective jealousy - the poor man is unable to live with his see-sawing emotions and is driven i
Jan 22, 2013 Anna rated it did not like it
I enjoyed several books by Barnes. Why, I actually loved them. I was so looking forward to reading this one, that's probably why the disappointment was really huge. For me, this book looked like a mix of pornography + a weak attempt at some psychological analysis. It was ugly, it was boring, it was disgusting at some places and totally implausible at others.

I'm glad I'm done with it and I hope other books by Barnes are more like Talking It Over than Before She Met Me.
Jun 10, 2015 Rafa rated it it was ok
Mar 02, 2013 Lil rated it did not like it
Painfully boring story of a man who becomes insanely jealous of his wife's previous lovers and more. Hated the characters and the only suspense was "when is this going to end?" There were a couple of funny lines but the book's most redeeming quality was that is was short.
Luisa Fer
Apr 11, 2009 Luisa Fer rated it really liked it
British authors are so daring. It seems almost a contradiction. Here is this book which portrays a completely different sort of jealousy and Julian Barnes shows it with painful detail. It's so real that one wonders if we're all bound to crack at one point.
Carolyn Mck
Jan 10, 2016 Carolyn Mck rated it liked it
This is the third book by Barnes that I have read recently. I find him always worth the read and particularly enjoy his writing in this, the short story form.

This set of stories falls into two sections. The first all have a very modern sensibility, with every second story a ‘smart set’ dinner party conversation ‘At Phil and Joanna’s 1, 2 etc. These have a nice satiric touch, while the intervening stories are more serious, often about the essential loneliness of the human condition.

I didn’t app
Razvan Zamfirescu
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu


Felul în care Barnes vorbește despre gelozie este incredibil de coerent, o spun pentru că been there, done that, iar exagerările pe care Graham le trăiește sunt veridice, înclinate ușor spre patologic, dar reale. Este adevărat că am crezut că astfel de trăiri sunt specifice adolescenților sau tinerilor încă necopți, nicidecum nu pot face parte din serenitatea care ar trebui să marcheze la vârsta pe
Aug 07, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
Graham spends a brief period of time patting himself on the back after he meets Ann. She's pretty, sexually adventurous and a world away from his pedestrian wife Barbara. Quite why Ann's interested in insecure historian Graham is uncertain-the nice, safe guy after all of the wild boys of her youth?-but anyway, she is, they marry and Graham starts Part 2 of his life scarcely believing his luck.

But one day he takes his daughter to the pictures and spots the lovely Ann in one of her sexy cinematic
Feb 23, 2012 Tal rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, other
At the start of this fiendishly comic and suspenseful novel, a mild-mannered English academic chuckles as he watches his wife commit adultery. The action takes place she met him. But lines between film and reality, past and present become terrifyingly blurred in this sad and funny tour de force from the author of Flaubert's Parrot.

i read this book for my book club - it was entirely *not* my kind of book and i disagree that it is "comic" or "suspenseful". i assume that i thought it was dull and k
Phoebe Carver
Jan 15, 2016 Phoebe Carver rated it liked it
I found the characters in this novel to be insufferable, and the foreshadowing to be so heavy-handed that the final twist lay quite flat. It did, however, capture my interest from start to finish. Worth reading, but by no means as masterful as "The Sense of an Ending". It was eerily similar to Ian McEwan's "Enduring Love".
Mar 29, 2015 Miriam rated it really liked it
Fuerte descripción de celos tan intensos que llegan a doler al lector
Damien Mosley
Jun 05, 2013 Damien Mosley rated it really liked it
I read Before She Met Me straight after I finished The Sense of Ending, the only other of Julian Barnes's book's I have read. Going back three decades to Barnes's earlier work after reading such a complete work of art that is The Sense of Ending gives great insight into his growth as a writer. Before She Met Me is very readable but obviously no where near as good his Booker Prize winner and had an interesting if not a bit comic story line. I enjoyed the book and it's flow. I could see a lot of p ...more
Claudia Gregori
Jun 12, 2015 Claudia Gregori rated it it was ok
This is a strange book to review. I think Julian Barnes writes very well. Some sentences stand out and you have to read them again as they are so good you don't want them to disappear or you to forget them. But this story was perhaps too long. It didn't work.
The main character is historian Graham who was once upon a time married to grumpy and always critical Barbara. They had one daughter. When Graham meets blonde beauty Ann who is also younger and more pleasant than his wife, they start having
Reeditată în urmă cu câteva luni de către Editura Nemira, în traducerea binecunoscutului Radu Paraschivescu (care, de altfel, l-a tot tradus pe Barnes în română), Până când m-a cunoscut este un „clasic” marca Julian Barnes (apărut, în original, în 1982 – cu titlul Before She Met Me), o desfășurare de forțe pe linia obsesiei provocate de gelozie. Târziu sau nu, mă bucur că am ajuns să recuperez o lectură pe care o doream de mult – și încă mai am de acoperit volume din opera lui Barnes. Cititorii ...more
Stephen Curran
If you want to write a story about animal instinct verses rational thought, it's a sound idea to have your main character succumbing to sexual jealousy. Before She Met Me sees its unassuming protagonist turn rapidly from "a very sensible person" into a "little Othello" when confronted with his second wife's past. He can't help it. In the end, he even gives up trying to justify his appalling behaviour: it's out of his hands.

This is a solid, thoughtful, frank novel, with a wince-inducing climax.
Aug 23, 2008 Gerald rated it liked it
Recommends it for: serious students of literary style in fulfilled relationships
I can't remember finishing a book and immediately regretting that I'd read it. The disappointment here isn't any lack of artistry in the crafting of the book. No, it's simpler than that, and perhaps it's just my mistake for picking it up. I thought it was a comic novel. Indeed, it starts out that way. But it's a cynical character study, with a bloody bummer ending. Sorry, Barnes fans. He's lost me.
Mar 18, 2014 Jan rated it it was ok
I'm not really sure why I finished this book. I stopped about 2/3 of the way through because I didn't really see where it was going and I wasn't that interested in the characters, but curiosity (and endless miles to go on the treadmill) brought me back to it. Nope, it didn't really go anyplace that made sense. I suppose it's literature-y, but not my cup of tea.
Jan 14, 2010 Amber rated it really liked it
I very much liked this book and found it very engaging. The end was shocking and you find yourself wrapped up in a world that seems crazy yet plausible. Highly recommend.
Apr 24, 2015 David rated it liked it
Not so much a novel as a discourse on retrospective jealousy. Graham Hendrick becomes absorbed by the past affairs of his second wife Ann, despite being hugely in love with her and she with him. I find this hard to imagine, although I guess we have all wondered to a varying degree. It's just that Graham takes it to extremes. But it makes for a highly entertaining story, even if there is no plot a such. Only the second novel Barnes wrote, I actually preferred his first "Metroland". Thirty years l ...more
Apr 10, 2016 Joan rated it really liked it
Not sure what to say about this book. It DID make me think about the jealousies that can arise by too much focus on one's partner's past. And admittedly, in my 20's and 30's I focused too much on this myself. It's not healthy to do this.

I continue to be amazed at how Julian Barnes can write so much in so few words. He completely developed the characters and their emotions and brought it all to a close in under 200 pages. He has a true gift as a writer. I found myself wondering how he knew the em
Mark Speed
Oct 31, 2014 Mark Speed rated it really liked it
I was very surprised to learn, some years after reading it, that this was Barnes's second novel. Quite different to Metroland. I wondered how much this novel had to do with his own personal life.

There are a number of passages in it which still ring around my head. One was the description of the female protagonist's clothes. Another was how she engineered a disagreement to let someone else see that the relationship wasn't perfect.
Oct 18, 2014 Maud rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not one of Barnes' best works.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 89 90 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Time For Bed
  • Mobius Dick
  • De erfenis
  • The Virtuoso
  • Author, Author
  • The Total Library: Non-Fiction 1922-1986
  • In Between the Sheets
  • The Frozen Rabbi
  • Hello to the Cannibals: A Novel
  • The Bottle Factory Outing
  • Paris Trance
  • The Schoolmistress, and other stories
  • Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper
  • Bloodbrothers
  • With the Flow
  • A Window on the Universe
  • Too Much Information (Unshelved, #9)
  • Aqua Erotica: 18 Stories for a Steamy Bath
Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize--- Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Following an education at the City of London School
More about Julian Barnes...

Share This Book

“Gradually, he didn’t doubt, the world would calm down into a gigantic welfare state devoted to sporting, cultural and sexual exchange, with the accepted international currency being items of hifi equipment.” 0 likes
“It may be all right, you may have talked about it and agreed it was all right, but that’s not how sex works, is it? It’s where the unsayable is king; it’s where madness and surprise rule; it’s where the cheques you write for ecstasy are drawn on the bank of despair.” 0 likes
More quotes…