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A Meeting by the River

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  389 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Two English brothers meet, after a long separation, in India. Oliver, the idealistic younger brother, prepares to take his final vows as a Hindu monk. Patrick, a successful publisher with a wife and children in London and a male lover in California, has publicly admired his brother's convictions while privately criticizing his choices.

First published in 1967, A Meeting by

Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 15th 1999 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1967)
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Aug 14, 2016 Hugo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Gostei muito deste romance epistolar, o último do autor, que expõe a complexa relação entre dois irmãos. Oliver, recém convertido ao hinduísmo, resolve escrever ao seu irmão mais velho, Patrick, e explicar o real motivo que o levou a viajar até à Índia, tornar-se monge. Patrick parte ao seu encontro, aparentemente sem qualquer intenção de fazer o irmão renunciar a este surpreendente compromisso. As primeiras cartas que cada um escreve escondem por completo as suas dúvidas e aquilo que realmente ...more
Feb 18, 2013 Miro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the one hand, I enjoyed reading A Meeting by the River. Isherwood's eloquent excellence aside, the portrayal of the love-hate relationship inherent in (some) familial relations I found to be extremely well executed, if a bit forced, for its (un)bridled passion, character exploration - or rather, exposition - as well as candour. As is to be expected from such a subjective form, the narrators are very trustworthy and it is up to the reader to see through their truths and lies, go beyond their w ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Anna rated it liked it
Shelves: political-animal
A sketch, written as a series of letters (how quaint) and Isherwood's last book.

It would be tempting to undervalue the skill of the author here - the tone seems casual, with subtle changes in pitch depending on who will receive the letter that is written. Character and action are set both by reportage and conspicuous absences.

The counterpoint between the two brothers can easily be read as the complex split in each person's desires; to be ascetic and mindful, at the same time as wilful, selfish
"Marriage [is] an inhibition which automatically makes possible the concept of adultery."

Even as one of my all-time favorite authors, I have avoided some of Isherwood's late works, those in which he wrote of his conversion to Hinduism and close spiritual involvement with Swami Prabhavananda. I needn't have worried, at least with his A Meeting at the River (1967). Isherwood was a master craftsman who treated his readers with more respect than any author I can recall. In any case, this book is not
Nov 19, 2015 Bert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Brothers ey? such twats they can be.
Sam Quixote
Oct 25, 2013 Sam Quixote rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Isherwood is a writer I’ve been meaning to read for a while and when my Pa gave me a copy of A Meeting by the River as a gift - a book he read while a young man though today has completely forgotten - I thought now was the time. I wouldn’t have picked this Isherwood if it’d been up to me, I was more interested in A Single Man, which was made into a film a few years ago starring Colin Firth, or the even more famous Berlin Stories which became Liza Minnelli’s Cabaret, but A Meeting by ...more
Richard Jespers
Aug 19, 2016 Richard Jespers rated it liked it
Isherwood’s final novel, Meeting is both enjoyable and frustrating to read. The story of two brothers—told mostly in an epistolary fashion—holds one’s attention most of the time. The prose, as always, is seductive, leading a reader from one sentence to the next, one letter to the next. The author’s grasp of his material, that one of the brothers, Oliver, is planning to become a Hindu monk, is quite adequate—based on his own extensive study of and participation in the religion.

But the storytellin
Jan 01, 2016 Lily rated it it was amazing
Third Christopher Isherwood I've read, and it only confirmed my love for him. In this one, he explores themes of spirituality, self discovery, enlightenment, and love and relationships through the letters and diary entries of two brothers. Patrick, a married film producer in Los Angeles having an affair with a younger American man, visits Oliver in India where he is about to take his final vows of silence to become a Hindu Swami. It was so interesting to see their opposing perspectives on the sa ...more
Sep 08, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing
The river is the Ganges, and the meeting is between two brothers, Oliver and Patrick. Or, fine, I’ll say it, the meeting is between two worldviews.

This novel relies on letters and journal entries, some of which are penned by at least one very unreliable narrator, and the simple plot delivers some elegant surprises.

One of the two brothers is very hung up on sex, and is not honest with himself about matters sexual, but the opposition here is not the flesh against faith: this book is about what be
Stephen AB
Nov 01, 2015 Stephen AB rated it liked it
I can see why some people think this book is a mess - it certainly isn't as good as some of his other books. Still, I quite enjoyed it. I like the way the Brothers were both lost in their own way, flailing about trying to "find themselves", and how this lead to themselves becoming unreliable narrators to others, and to themselves for that matter. They still look for validation from each other and rely on mothers and wives and lovers and gurus and gods and sex. That each felt threatened by the ot ...more
Sep 03, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book about the relationship between two English brothers, Patrick, the older one who works in the publishing and the film industry and is married, and Oliver, the younger one, who after having worked with the Quakers and for the Red Cross, is about to take his vows to become a swami — a buddhist monk — in a monastery in Calcutta. I don't know Isherwood that well — I have only read A Single Man, and know of his life what was on the back of the book and in the bibliography — but it se ...more
Paul Lorentz
Feb 01, 2015 Paul Lorentz rated it it was amazing
I love stories about brothers and this is a great one about the reunion of 34-year-old Oliver and his older brother Patrick (a publisher of risque memoirs and a budding Hollywood film producer) at the Hindu monastery along the banks of the Ganges in Calcutta where Oliver is preparing to take his final vows as a swami.

The story is told through a series of letters and diary entries, and while the format might feel gimmicky at times, it actually serves the story well, establishing a variety of lon
Jul 21, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 20, 2016 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really wish Goodreads had quarter ratings. This book was so close to 4 stars but just didn't feel like it. I would give it 3.75 stars if I could. I enjoyed this book very much. This is my first time reading Christopher Isherwood- but definitely not my last, by a long shot. The writing in this novel is so poetically beautiful and honest.
Now, let's start.
To be honest, I loved our main character Olly, or Oliver. I felt that he was a wonderful character to explore his journey without getting bor
Sasha Carty
May 29, 2016 Sasha Carty rated it really liked it
It started off slow for me because I needed to get a grasp on the writing style. After understanding the roles each one plays and how the dialogue is formatted, I started to appreciate the story. I have some background knowledge on the Buddhist/swami concepts and I think the author did a good job in capturing those aspects of the culture. As a gay themed novel, it hit close to home, especially nearing the end of the book. I can relate to Tom's emotions (although not explicitly stated) and became ...more
Nov 06, 2014 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: project-abcs
This is the second Isherwood I read. I didn't like the first one (A SINGLE MAN), and I can't say I really liked this one, either. The characters are unlikable: one a fickle, hypocritical liar and the other a husk of a religious man. The writing is competent but not beautiful. The plot is thin and unfinished. It's just not my thing.

I picked it up because I liked the cover -- pink and orange Indian men in various poses on a dark purple background, a slanted font for the title, Isherwood's signatur
Jan 07, 2015 Erica rated it it was amazing
I just really love Christopher Isherwood. Two brothers begin corresponding after a long break. One on his way to becoming a Hindu monk, the other making a film career for himself in LA. The text is entirely letters and journals - many events change significantly depending on who the letter is addressed to. They meet by a river in India, and set about trying to figure the other out. It's juicier than your standard brotherly love novel, and easy to read, but there's no sacrifice to depth.
This may have been the reminder I needed that I generally prefer Isherwood's nonfiction work. He is always so readable, but here the story suffered from an overabundance of Points to Be Made. Silver lining: these characters were so enjoyably unlikeable, and I'm at least 90% sure that was intentional.
Jul 18, 2016 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Before you start this book, realize it was written in 1967 -- and you will realize how revolutionary it must have been. This is a quick read in the epistolary style between two brothers, with a few journal entries to round it out.
Al Zaquan
May 03, 2015 Al Zaquan rated it it was amazing
A soon to be monk, and his brother who is a successful publisher. The whole book comprises letters or journal entries - both of the men are deeply narcissistic, hypocritical and dishonest - but this was never once unpleasant to read, it was fascinating, introspective and often humorous.
Mia Boddington
Jan 04, 2015 Mia Boddington rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this: an interesting story of two brothers, one about to become a Hindu monk, one having just fallen in love with another man (bearing in mind this was written in 40s). It was enlightening and somewhat thought-provoking but just lacked something, probably because it had little in the way of plot. Would have worked well as a play.
Jan 27, 2016 Caffers rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book, even imagining how the story line was going to proceed. My thoughts were better than what actually happened.
Kris McCracken
Mar 20, 2011 Kris McCracken rated it liked it
Exploring the ambiguities inherent in sexuality, religious devotion, and sibling relationships, the story is constructed from the letters and diary entries of a pair of brothers, and features enough twists and turns to keep you hooked.

To be frank, in terms of characterisation, everyone bar the Oliver and Tom – the brothers – is one dimensional. That is always a risk of this kind of narrative construction, and people might be right in bemoaning the crude representation of the usual suspects – ‘Mo
Apr 09, 2013 Summreen rated it liked it
The letters written by the subjects in the book make up the story, with some extra additions from journals. I found this fascinating, as indeed, all books are someones personal percpective on something but in this case, it was purposely evident how limiting this point of view is.

Anyway, I found the story of siblings and their complicated relationship quite interesting and a reflection on my own misinterpretations with people. It did seem that one of them was more sinister than the other, but I
Tyler Jones
Mar 15, 2015 Tyler Jones rated it really liked it
A very moving book about spirituality, sexuality, and self realization.
Stubby Girdle
Aug 12, 2014 Stubby Girdle rated it liked it
"It didn't progress or change, it was simply a situation."
Patrick Ryan
Sep 23, 2014 Patrick Ryan rated it it was amazing
One of a kind -- a beautiful book.
Pratyush Arya
Jan 18, 2016 Pratyush Arya rated it liked it
A one time read.
Feb 06, 2012 Steven rated it really liked it
Deep and wide as the Ganges River. Two brothers try way too hard to understand one another's choices and philosophies in life, then realize they are standing on the common ground of human imperfection. A beautiful reminder that sometimes the best we can do is try to understand our siblings and hope that the effort is interpreted as "love". The brothers are easy to relate to, although it's hard to imagine anyone writing such length, florid letters in our world of instant communication.
Dan Bee
Jul 10, 2014 Dan Bee rated it did not like it
My least favorite of Isherwood. Despite the supposed character development and their personal revelations by the end of the story, it all felt static and predictable. For the first time reader of Isherwood I would suggest pretty much anything other than this one.
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Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen-writer, autobiographer, and diarist. He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing. He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.

Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privile
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“I mean, I'm not naive enough to imagine that anyone can be satisfied indefinitely by memories, especially if he's young and full of life, like you. I did my best to help you build up a reserve to keep going on.” 0 likes
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