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Talking It Over

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  2,583 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Shy, sensible banker Stuart has trouble with women; that is, until a fortuitous singles night, where he meets Gillian, a picture restorer recovering from a destructive affair. Stuart's best friend Oliver is his complete opposite - a language teacher who 'talks like a dictionary', brash and feckless. Soon Stuart and Gillian are married, but it is not long before a tentative...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 27th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

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May 08, 2011 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Julian Barnes completists
Shelves: novels
The problem is that one third of this novel is spoken by Oliver, who talks like the cheese shop customer in the Monty Python sketch :

I was sitting in the public library on Thurmon Street just now, skimming through "Rogue Herries" by Hugh Walpole, and I suddenly came over all peckish. And I thought to myself, "a little fermented curd will do the trick," so, I curtailed my Walpoling activites, sallied forth, and infiltrated your place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some cheesy comestibl...more
May 04, 2011 Trevor rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: literature
I hadn't planned to watch the Royal Wedding, but then Paul suggested there might be an anarchist outrage during the ceremony and, well, I couldn't resist. But I've been annoyed ever since.

One of my favourite parts of this book is that one of the characters wants his wedding vows to contain the phrase, "With all my worldly goods I thee endow". It is, admittedly, a beautiful phrase and I can believe a character wanting this included in their vows. So, the Royals being high church and all, I expect...more
well, this was a surprise. this book and I started off with the wrong foot, and for the first 60 - 70 pages i kept wondering if i'm going to have to do the unthinkable and give a bad opinion on a Barnes book. but then the universe sweated off this problem and made this work take the road of well - written literature. the three star rating might, therefore, come as a surprise, but don't be fooled - the rating system on GR is just a gimmick we play with, not a thing you should take for granted.

This is the first Julian Barnes I've read. One word comes to mind to describe his writing and that is "control". How can I explain that more? There are no extra words, ideas, paragraphs, characters, or scenes in his book. Every word is tightly woven into the story. All writers aspire to achieve that. Julian Barnes' Talking It Over is an excellent and rare example of that kind of control. I get the sense that Barnes knows exactly what he wants to say and gets straight to the business of saying it...more
Petra Xtra Crunchy
Barnes is able to take what seems to be a fairly ordinary story and by his superlative writing extract from it the nuances of character and plot that involve you as if you were watching a BBC middle-class series about unfaithfulness and angst set in some rather nicely-decorated homes.

This wouldn't have won the Booker Prize as The Sense of an Ending deservedly did, but it is brilliantly written and a very good read.
Saverio Mariani
Quando - su Repubblica, alcuni giorni fa - lessi l'intervista di lancio per il nuovo romanzo di Julian Barnes, rimasi colpito. Un taglio netto dentro le concezioni più diffuse intorno al dolore, questo aveva fatto Barnes, rispondendo a quattro o cinque domande.

Ho conosciuto, letterariamente, lo scrittore con Il senso di una fine, suo penultimo romanzo, sempre edito da Einaudi (regalatomi da un amico, che sa come viziarmi).
In seguito a quell'intervista ho sfogliato - in libreria - Livelli di vit...more
Jun 28, 2012 Kirstie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in relationships
Julian Barnes has tremendous ability as a writer, as I discovered in The Sense of an Ending and currently now in The History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters. Unfortunately, I feel this would be one of his weaker novels and would not recommend it to anyone but a completist who loves everything else Barnes has ever done. This is not to say that it's toss away garbage but there are others one should definitely read first surely (the other two I mentioned, for instance). I'd also love to receive fur...more
Tulpesh Patel
Talking It Over is the story of three people, Stuart, Gillian, and 5th wheel Stuart, caught in a love triangle. Told from each of their perspectives 'directly to camera', we learn how the love of each pair develops and ultimately unravels.

Many people have commented that the characters are thoroughly unlikable, but I found their flaws compelling, and thoroughly enjoyed reading about them. I think it is testament to Barnes' keen eye that the characters are so well drawn that they create this disli...more
It's always satisfying when a favorite author reliably delivers. Julian Barnes is one of my favorites for a reason. This book was so compelling, you couldn't help but keep reading to watch the train wreck of a story unfold. It's the story of two best friends with completely opposite personalities and the woman who gets in the middle of them. This sounds like a pretty well-trodden tale, but the point is that the book's not really about the "story" or "plot" (plus, it was written in 1991). It's re...more
Marte Patel
This is the February title for our monthly work book club, chosen by my colleague and friend. Did I like it? Not particularly. Was it well-written? Kind of. Was it witty (as promised by said friend)? If it was, I hardly ever got it - I only found it funny in one or two places.

The thing is, I really hate reading novels about weak, weird people, so I guess I was never going to love this! The characters: Oliver is obviously disagreeable - a snob, arrogant, ultimately insecure - and quite a stereoty...more
Hilarious and incredibly clever. I was impressed with the way the plot kept twisting and turning and kept me interested until the very last page. The narrative mode was interesting; the story is constructed like one big conversation with the reader, during which all three main characters (and some minor characters) get a chance to speak. This could have been exhausting, but if there's anything I've learned about Julian Barnes by now it's that he could make anything work.

Barnes' writing strikes t...more
Isaac Bourgeois
I'm just a total Barnes fanboy. Not his strongest book - my rating is really a 3.5. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you're considering reading Barnes, don't start here: go for Sense of an Ending.
Denise Duncan
Gracias a la eficacia en la creación de personajes de Barnes, no pasan más de dos o tres páginas antes de que uno pueda ponerles cara. Se vuelven corpóreos, podrían ser ese que está sentado en la cafetería o el que te mira muy serio en el bus. Me encantan los libros así, que a los pocos instantes de empezarlos ya me parece que conozco a sus protagonistas.

No se cuenta una gran historia, pero es interesante. No es original, pero es bastante único. Te lleva de la mano de un estado anímico a otro, p...more
Stephen Curran
Coming after a trio of mixed-genre, mercurially minded novels, I suspect Julian Barnes was aiming for a broader audience with Talking it Over. It feels much more relaxed, like he was unbuckling his belt after a big meal.

In the main, it is narrated by the three principal characters - Gillian, Stuart and Oliver - taking turns to give conflicting accounts of the 'now' (or more precisely, of what just happened). What one character sees as a clumsy misfortune, the other sees as a head-butt. None of t...more
This could have been a great novel if it had not lost its way in trying to be too smart, like one of its characters oliver. It is written through the eyes of each of its three characters. And one of them actually talks like a dictionary. The problem being, after a few pages, you realize he isn't saying much that you would take an effort to look up his words in a dictionary. I just skipped over the words I didn't understand, and it didn't make a difference.
Julian Barnes loves to delve into the de...more
Camille Chidsey
3.5/5. I'm still thinking about this book. Barnes is a good writer and I really liked the interplay between the characters (especially the ending). However, Oliver annoyed me (I would have loathed the guy in real life), but I still was intrigued by him even though he pretentiously rambled. I like Barnes because there are also soundbites in his novels that are wonderful and often underestimated. He really crafts his language carefully and mulls over every word. With Oliver though, it's easy to sk...more
Simon Bendle
I find Barnes so thoughtful and smart - but at the same time witty and fun to read. None of the three main characters here are particularly likeable. But they're all vivid and compelling and full of surprises.
Ronald Roumanis
While I enjoy Julian Barnes's writing, this book is rather long-winded and unoriginal. As conventional a love triangle as you'll see, Talking it Over is delivered with an a switching narrator format. Each character tells his/her story in first-person voice as the narrative unfolds. The characters are hackneyed; dedicated yet boring, Stuart fights for a woman's love versus an "edgy" artist-type, Oliver. And of course, Oliver and Stuart are "best friends." Who wins? Who would you guess...

But Barne...more
From BBC Radio 4:
A tale of love's vicissitudes written by Julian Barnes and dramatised by Julia Stoneham.
Bizarre Love Triangle ...

2 best friends and the woman who came between them ...

Painful from 3 perspectives ...
Wow. What an amazing presentation of three not-so-likable people! This was really fun to read and to talk about.
Mark Bateman
I've just finished this book and I was gripped from start to finish. I stayed up way past my bed time as I couldn't put it down. The plot is simple enough, boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy's best friend falls in love with the girl... It's told from the viewpoint of the three main characters as if they are talking directly to you and this is what really gripped me. You will have a favourite character as I did and your sympathies lie with them but getting the view point of the other character...more
I really, really enjoy Julian Barnes' books and this was one of my favorites.
I tend to dislike books that are written from the point of views of several characters, but Mr. Barnes has somehow managed to make me love it in this novel. The book is funny, witty, and the characters actually sound like different people. I had very strong opinions and reactions to our three protagonists as though they were real people which I think really speaks to the writer's skill. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I also look forward to reading the sequel, which highly amuses me as I ca...more
Nov 09, 2011 Kevin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people scared of being cheated on
I have quite an ambiguous feeling towards this book. On the one hand, I didn't like it. First of all, I could not relate to any of the main characters and felt little to no sympathy towards any of them. Secondly, the language - esp. of Oliver - is tedious, overly complex and simly annoying. Thirdly, I don't like sections with lyrics or poems in novels. So admittedly, I have skimmed certain passages rather than actually read them.
On the other hand, I like it quite a lot. It moved me emotionally....more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Sivori
It's a bit of a trick to try to weave a story together from three different and equally sympathetic perspectives. I think it works here, in a superficial sense; enough to propel the narrative and concept of the story. I don't think it's necessary to create a perfect, fully-realized simulation of the three characters in this novel. They are more or less archetypes enmeshed in a love triangle. The stoic reliable (boring) husband, the repressed, vulnerable wife, and the feckless, dissolute intellec...more
Javier Jiménez
Este libro ha hecho que me interese más en Julian Barnes, ahora no puedo esperar por leer otro libro suyo. La historia es acerca de tres personas: dos hombres y una mujer. Estos dos hombres han mejores amigos por varios años, a pesar de que cada quien tiene personalidades muy distintas. Y la mujer de repente entra en la vida de uno de estos hombres para convertirse en su esposa. Todo lo que sigue es un drama lleno de idas y venidas. Así que la historia es interesante.

Pero lo que gustó más del li...more

TALKING IT OVER was a really fast and entertaining read. Stuart, a rich, seemingly boring and straight laced banker marries the soft-spoken and adorable Gillian who is a painting restorer. Stuart's charming, eccentric and bankrupt English teacher best friend Oliver also falls in love with Gillian and becomes his best friend's sexual rival.

It is a love triangle told in first person narrative where each person in the triangle gives their point of view about what ha...more
Aaah I have so many feelings. I know this is the only book Julian Barnes wrote a sequel to, because it was the only one where his readers wanted to know what happened to the characters at the end. Personally, I was happy with where the story of the three leads cut off, I didn't want to know more. I was satisfied with the bittersweet end.

The thing is, this book is a love story, or two love stories, and neither have a particularly happy ending. But it works, because there's something so brilliantl...more
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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
More about Julian Barnes...
The Sense of an Ending Arthur & George A History of the World in 10½  Chapters Flaubert's Parrot England, England

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“Love is just a system for getting someone to call you Darling after sex.” 32 likes
“I’ve always thought you are what you are and you shouldn’t pretend to be anyone else. But Oliver used to correct me and explain that you are whoever it is you’re pretending to be.” 13 likes
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