corner corner Flaubert's Parrot - and - Talking it Over


Flaubert's Parrot - and - Talking it Over
by Julian Barnes | Literature & Fiction
Registered by wingStoepbrakwing of Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on 4/5/2013
Average 9 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by Stoepbrak): travelling

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1 journaler for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by wingStoepbrakwing from Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on Friday, April 05, 2013

This book has not been rated.

-- This is the second copy of both books on my bookshelf --

Synopsis/Review (Credit:

Flaubert's Parrot

Flaubert's Parrot deals with Flaubert, parrots, bears and railways; with our sense of the past and our sense of abroad; with France and England, life and art, sex and death, George Sand and Louise Colet, aesthetics and redcurrant jam; and with its enigmatic narrator, a retired English doctor, whose life and secrets are slowly revealed.

A compelling weave of fiction and imaginatively ordered fact, Flaubert's Parrot is by turns moving and entertaining, witty and scholarly, and a tour de force of seductive originality.

Shortlist: Man Booker Prize for Fiction 1984.
On the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List.

Talking it Over

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 friendship between the three evolves into something far different.

Talking it Over is a brilliant and intimate account of love's vicissitudes. It begins as a comedy of misunderstanding, then slowly darkens and deepens, drawing us compellingly into the quagmires of the heart.

(Bought second-hand at Help the Rural Child Charity Bookshop, Main Road, Retreat.) 

Journal Entry 2 by wingStoepbrakwing at Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on Saturday, December 27, 2014

9 out of 10

Flaubert's Parrot   9/10

This was a delight to read: part meticulous biography, part compelling fiction. Importantly, though: this is not a case of fictionalised biography, a genre I'm not too fond of. The biography aspect (with Gustave Flaubert as topic) is not fiddled with and the fictional story, woven around the main protagonist's research and his fascination with Flaubert, can stand on its own.

You can define a net in one of two ways, depending on your point of view. Normally, you would say that it is a meshed instrument designed to catch fish. But you could, with no great injury to logic, reverse the image and define a net as a jocular lexicographer once did: he called it a collection of holes tied together with string. You can do the same with a biography. The trawling net fills, then the biographer hauls it in, sorts, throws back, stores, fillets and sells. Yet consider what he doesn't catch: there is always far more of that.

To a large extent, this biographer did both, covering both string and holes in fascinating detail. The presentation is unique and never boring, with a penetrating take on different subthemes in turn rather than a more conventional, chronological investigation of the main theme. I'm still no huge fan of Flaubert* but I definitely understand him a lot better. Life is complicated. Or, as the author (in the words of the biographer) puts it: Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people's lives, never your own.

* These were my thoughts on Madame Bovary, for instance.

Talking it Over   7/10

I read this copy of the book. This was my review at the time (2012-09-27):

Witty, sad, scary.

It would be interesting to see what he makes of the sequel, Love, etc. 

Journal Entry 3 by wingStoepbrakwing at Atlantic Beach Hotel in Melkbosstrand, Western Cape South Africa on Tuesday, February 14, 2017

This book has not been rated.

Released 1 yr ago (2/14/2017 UTC) at Atlantic Beach Hotel in Melkbosstrand, Western Cape South Africa


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