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Cross Channel

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  568 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
In these stories, Julian Barnes takes as his universal theme the British in France - the fascination with the country, the reasons for being there, and the sometimes ambiguous reception.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 3rd 1997 by Picador (in association with Jonathan Cape) (first published 1996)
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Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
This is Barnes' first collection of short stories, all about various Brits in France, down through the ages.

In GNOSSIENNE, a Spanish poet, an Algerian film-maker, an Italian semiotician, a Swiss crime-writer, A German dramatist, a Belgian art critic and yours truly (him, not me) are invited to a dinner. Ees no joke.

In EVERMORE, an old woman goes to WWI graveyards in France. Her brother is there. Unknown soldiers are there. She wondered if there were such a thing as collective memory….

Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it
This collection of short stories was uneven. Don’t I say this about every collection of short stories? Well, except for the one I found evenly bad, but I won’t mention any names.

The book’s main theme is the relations between French and British, specifically the stories of Brits in France. Being neither French, nor British (at least not for another two years) this is a foreign territory for me. I see both countries through my Polish glasses. France is mostly Napoleon and his broken promises made
Sep 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked this book up because (a) I had heard a lot of good things about the author, and (b) I was taking a cross channel historical research trip myself, traveling alone, and needing a trusty literary tour guide.

In both, I wasn’t disappointed. Barnes is a great stylist, his prose nothing but elegant. He is also able to narrate in different voices: a pompous British aristocrat who thinks only of Cricket while France burns in the Revolution and la Terreur, two old maids who give up their farm in
Stan Georgiana
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exact: 3.5 stelute
Aug 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Short story collection, so a fast read. I enjoyed probably 60% of the stories, and I did like the little things that linked some with others in the collection. But I had problems reading this one - probably because I'm Canadian.

More specifically, probably because I'm not English or French. There were a lot of references to the history of these two countries, many of which were the linchpin for the story, and if you didn't know the history, it took a long time to figure out the story, sometimes n
Stephen Curran
Ten short stories on Anglo-French relations. A few are memorable, but there's nothing here to match the interlinked tales in The History of the World in 10.5 Chapters.

Frequently enough, though, you meet a phrase or a passage that reminds you how much of a masterful and moving writer Julian Barnes can be, especially on the topic of grief.
Andreea Chiuaru
Mărturisire: nu prea îmi place proza scurtă. Nici franceză nu ştiu. Doar că Barnes m-a cucerit cu totul: jocurile de cuvinte, personajele memorabile, dialogurile. Abia aștept să-i (şi) citesc romanele.
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just wonderful, every story so perfect.
Ana Lúcia
Dez contos de Julien Barnes, aparentemente soltos, que se unem num fio condutor…
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love short stories and I love Julian Barnes even more. The love for the two comes together fairly well in this book. The premise of the collection is Anglo-French relations and it plays a prominent role and a profound backdrop over which the stories are laid.

I've been reading a lot of the author's works over the past year and it has shown me his tremendous range over a variety of genre. From contemporary fiction in "Sense of an Ending" and "Talking it over/Love,etc" to the biographical account
Jun 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Julian Barnes’ collection of short stories, Cross Channel, raises a good question on the evening of June 15, 2016, a week before the U.K.’s referendum on staying in or leaving the EU: If there are two kinds of Brits, those who love the Continent, or in the case of Barnes’ stories, France, and those who find the Continent a money-sucking, freedom killing cesspit, which are the larger number? Will there be a Brexit or not? Should there be a Brexit or not?

Barnes is a Francophile, steeped in France’
Aug 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“I think if I’d shown genuine interest at this point, I might have scared him off, but I was slumped in the oppressive reflection that my uncle was not just an old bore, but a parody of an old bore. Why didn’t he strap on a peg-leg and start capering round some inglenooked pub waving a clay pipe? ‘Thereby hangs a tale, and it’s one I’ve never told a living soul’. People don’t say that any more. Except my uncle just had” (54). *I hate putting the period outside the quotation mark, but Julian is E ...more
Oct 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Over het kanaal
De verhalen in 'Over het kanaal' van Julian Barnes zijn zeer lezenswaardig. Dat blijkt al uit het eerste verhaal over een Engelse componist die met zijn vriendin in het plaatsje Saint-Maure-de-Vercelles woont en nog maar op twee dingen wacht: 'Hij verlangde naar de dood en hij verlangde naar de komst van zijn grammofoonplaten. Voor de rest was hij met zijn leven rond. Zijn werk was af; de komende jaren zou het hetzij worden vergeten, hetzij worden geprezen, afhankelijk van het fei
Mar 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, back then, the commonality of grief had helped: wives, mothers, comrades, an array of brass hats, and a bugler amid gassy morning mist which the feeble November sun had failed to burn away. Later, remembering Sam had changed: it became work, continuity; instead of anguish and glory, there was fierce unreasonableness, both about his death and her commemoration of it. During this period, she was hungry for the solitude and the voluptuous selfishness of grief: her Sam, her loss, her morni ...more
Axel Ainglish
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Is good as a whole. But am writing this review more than any other because of the last short story,think it is. The two British ladies who decide to go into the Bourdeaux area, buy some good terrain there and start trying to compete with their French fellow mates to make one of the finest Bourdeaux wine ever produced.This is the one. For that, of course, they got to know the Bourdeaux "know how" secret, which is next step they get into. It so funny, describes so well old rivalry and love and hat ...more
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. I'm probably going to shove it at you at some point
What an extremely compelling little collection of stories. Actually, "addictive" would be a better word. I picked it up thinking I'd read one or two stories. Wrong. I couldn't put it down. A writer who can keep me this riveted when writing about topics that would typically have me saying "huh?" (i.e. the building of the European railroads, two English women establishing a French winery, etc.), in a form I typically avoid -- that is, the short story? Well, he MUST be a great writer (of course, I ...more
There were a lot of ideas I liked in here, but perhaps I prefer when Barnes follows through with them in a novel. I didn't find this collection of short stories an especially striking work of Barnes', though I like Anglo-French relations, absurd writers retreats, and Victorian lesbians who own wineries together. Of the set I probably liked the first story the best, but I'd been hoping they'd improve from there and I wasn't sure they did. Again, the writing is excellent and the topics are general ...more
Dan Coxon
A good collection, but not as strong as I'd hoped. There were some definite high points - 'Junction', 'Melon' and 'Dragons' were all well executed and memorable - but the collection as a whole was too inconsistent. Perhaps the adherence to its French theme was too great a constraint, forcing Barnes to fabricate themed stories rather than follow his muse. Whatever the cause, Cross Channel is a very mixed bag - some genuine classics, alongside far too much filler. Still, his storytelling ability c ...more
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and understated, this collection shows Barnes is as skilled at the short story as he is at the novel. The first and final stories in the book are my favorite--rich, dense, and moving. They deal with the uneasy relationship between vision and memory, between moving forward and hanging back.

I wonder, though, if the British find these stories more personal. I am intellectually aware of the historical relationship between England and France, but I haven't spent my life staring (metaphorica
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Short stories dealing with cultural clashes, conflicts, and foibles of France and England. I especially liked "Interference," in which a composer and his companion communicate and misunderstand one another, and "Experiment," a humorous tale of a man's encounter with French surrealists and how it shaped his life.
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Julian Barnes is an acquired taste, one I've enjoyed since I first came across Flaubert's Parrot. I'm not a huge fan of short stories, so I usually only bother with authors I already like. This one did not disappoint. Though the stories could not grab me equally, his brilliant writing made up for the draggy ones, hence the fourth star.
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2014
This loosely linked collection of stories of British experiences of France spans a variety of settings, historical periods and social classes. Barnes always writes with clarity and humour, and offers many insights. Very enjoyable.

Not sure why GoodReads has appended the author's name to the title - I wish the titles that actually appear on the book could be retained...
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Entertaining collection of stories about England/France. Which is interesting in comparison to Ireland/England and Ireland/France.

Pretty illuminating about Barnes' francophilia in his other novels.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Somewhat uneven, and the book gains more substance if one is familiar with both Britain and France, but Barnes, as ever, does have a very gentle prose, elegant and insightful when at his best. The last story in this collection, Tunnel, rang especially true, to my mind.
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it
The last story is a truly wonderful revelation about the book as a whole. How do writers use their imagination? What do they see around them that becomes a story? Some of the stories drag a bit, but the good ones make this a very enjoyable read.
Ana  Vlădescu
I really liked one of the last stories, called The Dragons. Of course, all o the stories had something to be taken out from them, but I especially enjoyed that one. I think this will be one of the books that I will someday reread.
Peter Spencer
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A great collection of short stories on interactions between the British and French covering various times in history. The stories are wildly unique, curious, and very personal. The writing is superb and immensely entertaining and thought-provoking.
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy, en
Twelve short stories of a varied style and sub-topic within the Anglo-French relationship. Pick of the bunch was 'Experiment' that now prompts me to read all about the French Surrealists famous 'sessions'.
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly enjoyable. By turns wryly funny and very moving. Up there with 'Duffy' and 'Metroland' as my favourite thing Julian Barnes has done.
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-english
Actual rating: 3.5 stars. (I enjoyed some short stories more than others, hence the rating.)
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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
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