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Book Review: 'Love, etc.'

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Love, Etc.

Current Status:
In Season
Julian Barnes

We gave it a B

In this sequel to the 1991 novel Taking It Over, Barnes redrafts a love triangle and reworks a conceit: The characters, a decade older now, again address the reader directly, variously confessing for three or four pages and lying one line at a time. After catching us up on past events in a chapter titled ”The Story So Far,” each offers a perspective on square Stuart’s reappearance in the lives of Gillian (his ex-wife) and Oliver (the ex-best friend who bird-dogged her in the first installment), and each wonders about the troubling riddles of marriage. The novel’s sophistication of structure only halfway disguises its thinness of plot: This is essentially a refracted short story, and Barnes’ stylistic brilliance too often illuminates only itself. B