MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of The Sea by John Banville

The Sea

by John Banville

The Sea by John Banville X
The Sea by John Banville
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2005, 195 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2006, 208 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A luminous novel about love, loss, and the unpredictable power of memory. Winner of the 2005 Booker Prize.

A luminous novel about love, loss, and the unpredictable power of memory.

The narrator is Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who, soon after his wife's death, has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child—a retreat from the grief, anger, and numbness of his life without her. But it is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled vacationing family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. The seductive mother; the imperious father; the twins—Chloe, fiery and forthright, and Myles, silent and expressionless—in whose mysterious connection Max became profoundly entangled, each of them a part of the "barely bearable raw immediacy" of his childhood memories.

Interwoven with this story are Morden's memories of his wife, Anna—of their life together, of her death—and the moments, both significant and mundane, that make up his life now: his relationship with his grown daughter, Claire, desperate to pull him from his grief; and with the other boarders at the house where he is staying, where the past beats inside him "like a second heart."

What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of this elegiac, vividly dramatic, beautifully written novel—among the finest we have had from this extraordinary writer.

Winner of the 2005 Booker Prize.

I


They departed, the gods, on the day of the strange tide. All morning under a milky sky the waters in the bay had swelled and swelled, rising to unheard-of heights, the small waves creeping over parched sand that for years had known no wetting save for rain and lapping the very bases of the dunes. The rusted hulk of the freighter that had run aground at the far end of the bay longer ago than any of us could remember must have thought it was being granted a relaunch. I would not swim again, after that day. The seabirds mewled and swooped, unnerved, it seemed, by the spectacle of that vast bowl of water bulging like a blister, lead-blue and malignantly agleam. They looked unnaturally white, that day, those birds. The waves were depositing a fringe of soiled yellow foam along the waterline. No sail marred the high horizon. I would not swim, no, not ever again.

Someone has just walked over my grave. Someone.




The name of the house is the Cedars, as of old....

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About This Book

In this hypnotic tour de force of mood, language, and psychological revelation, the Irish novelist tells the story of a bereaved man desperately sorting through the strands of his memory—the memories of his recent loss and those of the losses that came before it. Those various strands are by now so intertwined and tightly knotted that Max Morden doesn't know which of them causes him the greatest pain. But as Banville's sinuous narrative plays out, it becomes apparent that Morden is in danger of being strangled by his memories, especially by the ones he has invented. If one theme is most prominent in The Sea, it's the ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    Booker Prize
    2005

Reviews

Media Reviews

The Washington Post - John Crowley
Banville's achievement seems remarkable to me. Banville appears to be fining down his writing to the central impulse of all his mature work, which he stated long ago in the extravagant Gothic tale Birchwood : "We imagine that we remember things as they were, while in fact all we carry into the future are fragments which reconstruct a wholly illusory past. The first death we witness will always be a murmur of voices down a corridor and a clock falling silent in the darkened room, the end of love is forever two cigarettes in a saucer and a white door closing.

Publishers Weekly
Like the strange high tide that figures into Max's visions and remembrances, this novel sweeps the reader into the inexorable waxing and waning of life.

Library Journal - Barbara Hoffert
The novel is written in a complex, luminous prose that might strike some as occasionally overblown ... The result? A breathtaking but sometimes frustrating novel. Highly recommended.

Booklist - Brad Hooper
Starred Review. Winner of the 2005 Booker Prize for Fiction, Irishman Banville's new book does more than simply explore a life. It explores life.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Booker Prize was established by the Booker McConnell company in 1969, and is  considered to be one of most important literary awards in the UK, if not the most important. In recent years it has been sponsored by the Man Group, an investment company, and thus is officially known as The Man Booker Prize, but is more often referred to simply as 'The Booker'.

Pierre Bonnard: Max has a tendency to muse over the paintings of Pierre Bonnard and in particular Bonnard's paintings ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by John Banville

If you liked The Sea, try these:

  • This Is Happiness jacket

    This Is Happiness

    by Niall Williams

    Published 2019

    About this book

    More books by this author

    A profound and enchanting new novel from Booker Prize-longlisted author Niall Williams about the loves of our lives and the joys of reminiscing.

  • Black Rabbit Hall jacket

    Black Rabbit Hall

    by Eve Chase

    Published 2017

    About this book

    For fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Waters, here's a magnetic debut novel of wrenching family secrets, forbidden love, and heartbreaking loss housed within the grand gothic manor of Black Rabbit Hall.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Resisters
    The Resisters
    by Gish Jen
    Gish Jen's The Resisters depicts a future United States, dubbed AutoAmerica, where climate change ...
  • Book Jacket: The Mercies
    The Mercies
    by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
    It's 1617 and a violent storm has claimed the lives of 40 fishermen off the coast of Vardø, a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree
    by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Ya Ta, the main character in Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's novel, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, ...
  • Book Jacket: Run Me to Earth
    Run Me to Earth
    by Paul Yoon
    Suspenseful and elegant storytelling in Run Me to Earth kept me turning pages even through traumatic...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    And They Called It Camelot
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    An unforgettable portrait of American legend Jackie O.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Mountains Sing
    by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

    An enveloping, multigenerational tale set against the backdrop of the Viet Nam War.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien

The classic, ground-breaking meditation on war and the redemptive power of storytelling.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Mostly Dead Things

Mostly Dead Things
by Kristen Arnett

"Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart."
- BuzzFeed

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Die I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.