Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Meeting by the River” as Want to Read:
A Meeting by the River
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Meeting by the River

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  445 Ratings  ·  49 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, 160 pages
Published June 1st 1985 by Avon Books (first published 1967)
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 A Meeting by the River, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Meeting by the River

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 12, 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
Sep 01, 2012 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
Jan 30, 2010 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2017 João rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, foreign-fiction
Oliver aspira a ser monge de um mosteiro hindu. Pouco antes da cerimónia de consagração, das margens do Ganges, escreve ao irmão, Patrick, com quem não falava há alguns anos. Pede-lhe que conte à mãe, já que ele próprio não tem coragem para o fazer. Patrick corre para a Índia, ao encontro do irmão. Julga ter a obrigação de o salvar de tal destino, mas, na verdade, foge de si mesmo, da sua vida de homem casado que não sabe como conciliar com a paixão que sente por outro homem.

Escrito a várias vo
Nov 16, 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
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.
Although it is, in some ways, a rather sad story, it's a very interesting one, particularly with the background knowledge that Isherwood was himself a practicing Hindu. The reader is set up to empathize at first with Patrick, the older, worldly brother come to "save" his younger, idealistic sibling Oliver from taking his final vows as a Hindu monk. But in the course of reading his letters—in which he presents various, but never entirely honest versions of both himself and events taking place to ...more
Tem passagens que mereciam as 4*...
Richard Jespers
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
Aug 27, 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
Jan 01, 2016 Lily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ashley !
Aug 21, 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
Sep 08, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Paul Lorentz
Feb 01, 2015 Paul Lorentz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 21, 2016 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-ish, india
Isherwood employs a letter writing convention to reveal details of the characters' lives and relationships. Although this is not all that fresh, he does execute it well. I really began to understand how differently these two brothers viewed the world and each other and how radically we each can view the same event or set of circumstances. The tone and intention that each applies to the other's letters leads to a number of miscommunications, and you can see how any communication is going to be in ...more
Sasha Carty
May 29, 2016 Sasha Carty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 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
Kris McCracken
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
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
Jan 07, 2015 Erica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 07, 2012 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 20, 2012 Howard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads-read
Another wonderful, typically laconic and quintessentially preGonzo Gonzo work from the natural writing talent Isherwood which is an amalgam of themes such as the Hindu spirituality / postcolonial guilt matrix, English familial relations, gay rights, free love and communication problems. By turns shocking, calming and frustrating - as CI himself no doubt was as a man.
Mia Boddington
Dec 17, 2014 Mia Boddington rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 09, 2012 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't read any Isherwood beyond one or two of the Berlin Stories. After reading this I just want to read more. Truths about each character were wound out softly and gradually through their letters and diary entries. I also appreciated the spiritual dimension of the book. A straightforward and gentle read.
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.
This is the first Isherwood I've read. I'd like to read more, but this reading didn't compel me to rush out to get his other work. It's written in the style of each character writing letters to others (or personal diary entries). I always think that style is hard to pull off compellingly, but I find Isherwood does it well.
Nov 26, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-fiction
I love Christopher Isherwood's writing style. His sentences are beautifually crafted and they flow so well. Not only that, but they can contain a lot of information, very pithy, very thoughtful. This story was quite entertaining and there's a lot of underlying humor. It's genuinely a good read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Les amitiés particulières
  • Buddies
  • The Mad Man
  • Nights in Aruba
  • Skinned Alive
  • Arkansas: Three Novellas
  • A Sort Of Life
  • The White Book (Le Livre Blanc)
  • The Salt Point
  • Kept Boy
  • The Wandering Jews
  • قصص من سومرست موم
  • One for the Gods (Peter & Charlie Trilogy)
  • Kenny's Window
  • Sexually Speaking: Collected Sex Writings
  • The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up
  • Peyton Place and Return to Peyton Place
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
More about Christopher Isherwood...

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…