The Only Story
'Most of us have only one story to tell. I don't mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives- there are countless events, which we turn into countless stories. But there's only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine.'
It is the early 1960s, and in a staid suburb fifteen miles south of London Paul, nineteen, home from university for the holidays, is urged by his mother to join the tennis club. At the mixed doubles tournament he is partnered with a Mrs Macleod. She is forty-eight, confident, ironic. Her first name is Susan; she is married with two grown-up daughters. Soon Paul and Susan are lovers.
In The Only Story Paul looks back at how they fell in love, how he freed her from a sterile marriage, how they set up together, and how, very slowly, everything fell apart.This is a profound, achingly sad novel about love by one of fiction's greatest mappers of the human heart and its vagaries.
Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories, four collections of essays and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times number one bestseller Levels of Life. In 2017 he was awarded the LUgion d'honneur.