John Banville's Ancient Light is a story of obsessive young love and the power of grief
'Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.'
In a small town in 1950s Ireland a fifteen-year-old boy has illicit meetings with a thirty-five-year-old woman - in the back of her car on sunny mornings, and in a rundown cottage in the country on rain-soaked afternoons. Unsure why she has chosen him, he becomes obsessed and tormented by this first love. Half a century later, actor Alexander Cleave - grieving for the recent loss of his daughter - recalls these trysts, trying to make sense of the boy he was and of the needs and frailties of the human heart.
Praise for Ancient Light:
'Brilliant. Banville excels in his brightly lit descriptions of self-absorbed teenage lust', Guardian
'Dazzling . . . captures a long-lost adolescent world of passion and desire', Independent
'Banville perfectly captures the spirit of adolescence ... This is a luminous breathtaking work', Independent on Sunday
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of fourteen previous novels including The Sea, which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. He was recently awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. He lives in Dublin.
Glittering visual evocation, expressed in a tone at once fresh and wistfully ironic ... a world at once random, dreamlike and deeply experienced
4 STARS. Banville proves here over and over that one can write with the true texture if erotic memory without resorting to titillation. He deserves to outsell Fifty Shades of Grey tenfold.
4 STARS. Prose that lingers on every last physical and psychological detail.
Banville does regretful roues better than almost anyone ... His use of language can also be startlingly brilliant ... Terrific ... full of sadness and yearning.
This dazzling novel captures a long-lost adolescent world of passion and desire.
... ravishingly written and scrupulously observed
The Booker prize winning author - widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in English today - has produced what many already consider a literary masterpiece.
We now want them [novels] to provoke, cajole, edify, entertain, puzzle, divert, clarify and console. Banville's new novel does all these things and much more besides.
Banville, with his forensic sensory memory, his great gift for textural (and textual) precision, his ability to inhabit not just a room, as a writer, but also the full weight of a breathing body, is exactly in his element here.
A novel criss-crossed with ghost roads and dead-ends and peopled by shifty characters who seem provisional even to themselves. It is written in Baville's customary prose, rhythmic and allusive and dense with suggestive imagery, prose and deliberately slows you down and frequently wrongfoots you.