Books Magazine

The Only Story by Julian Barnes

By Pamelascott
'Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.'

First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn't know anything about that at 19. At 19, he's proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention. As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen.


[Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more, or love the less and suffer the less?]


(Whole Story Audiobooks, 1 February 2018, audiobook, 7 hours 21 minutes, bought from @audibleuk, narrated by Guy Mott)



I've read a few books by Julien Barnes now and highly rate his work. There's something sad, beautiful and fragile about it. The Only Story is a great example of what I've come to expect from his work. Paul's experiences of first love with the much older, married Susan rang true to me. First love is all consuming and obsessive. My relationship with my first love ended 16 years ago and she's still in my heart and always will be. You never forget your first love. At first, Paul's relationship with Susan, while intense is sweet and I started to think The Only Story was just a love story. But then Paul discovers a darker side to Susan's marriage and a darker side to her. Things got pretty heart-wrenching from this moment on. The Only Story is incredibly beautiful, sad and tender. It was great.

Only Story Julian Barnes

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