Elizabeth Finch: A novel

Category: Book
By (author): Barnes, Julian
Subject:  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Literary
Publisher: Random House of Canada
Published: August 2022
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 192
Size: 8.60in x 5.80in x 0.78in
Our Price:
$ 32.00
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

From the Booker Award-winning writer, a swift narrative that turns on the death of a vivid and particular woman, and becomes the occasion for a man's deeper examination of love, friendship and the mysteries of biography.

"I'll remember Elizabeth Finch when most other characters I've met this year have faded." -John Self, The Times (UK)

This novel of unrequited platonic love takes aim at the singular character of the exacting Elizabeth Finch. When Neil, adrift in his 30s, takes her adult education class on Culture and Civilization, he becomes deeply fascinated by this private, withholding yet commanding woman. While other personal relationships and even his children drift from his grasp, Neil hangs tight to Finch and her unorthodox application of history and philosophy to the practical matters of daily living. As much as he wants to figure her out intellectually, he want to please her. Both are impossible.

In Neil's story, readers are treated to everything they cherish in Barnes: his eye for the unconventional forms love can take, a compelling swerve into nonfiction (this time through Neil's obsessive study of Julian the Apostate, following the trail of crumbs Elizabeth Finch has left for him), and the forcefully moving undercurrent of history and biography as both nourishment and guide in our daily lives. Finch is a character who challenges the reader as much as her students to think for themselves, and leaves us searching for a way to deal with one of her simplest of ideas: "Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us."

Review Quote*

"Charming." -Molly Young, The New York Times Book Review
"Cerebral, essayistic. . . . The character of Elizabeth Finch that the novel is centred around is intriguing, and Barnes's Bbeautiful prose wholly encapsulates absolute adoration." -Book Riot
"Characteristically cerebral. . . . Longtime fans won't be surprised to learn that the English author's Elizabeth Finch is erudite yet accessible. . . . He's no less observant, no less dogged in his pursuit of intellectual clarity. [Barnes will] keep after an idea until he-and his readers-gets it. In this way, he's a lot like the lead character of this elegant novel." -Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"Barnes' reputation precedes him as an immersive and gentle storyteller, someone transfixed with humanness, the mystery at the center of personhood, and most importantly, the fallibility of memory and story. In typical Barnesian fashion, Elizabeth Finch's narrator, Neil, can trace the origin of his person, the turning point of his life, back to . . . a class he took with the larger-than-life Elizabeth Finch. . . . Perhaps one of Barnes' most personal novels, he pulls almost direct quotes from his 2016 obituary of his real-life friend and novelist, Anita Brookner as he describes [Elizabeth]. . . . Elizabeth Finch is an interrogation of what it means to make a study of someone else, love someone, to be changed by someone, and to realize we maybe never have known them at all." -Julia Hass, contributing editor, LitHub

"Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes is more than a novel. It's a loving tribute to philosophy, a careful evaluation of history, and an invitation to think for ourselves. It's a moment to reflect and gently explore our own theories and assumptions. It is truly a balm for our times." -Germiston City News (South Africa) 
"A novel of ideas . . . Elizabeth Finch offers plenty to chew on . . . with barely a sentence in it that doesn't have some nutritional value. . . . I'll remember Elizabeth Finch when most other characters I've met this year have faded." -John Self, The Times (UK)

"The book is the most philosophical of novels, from a writer who has never hesitated to address philosophical issues. Barnes is asking his readers for the same serious engagement that Elizabeth Finch demands of her students. Readers will respond in their own way to this challenge. Some will be encouraged to reflect on their relationships with others; some will read the book as a puzzle with no satisfactory resolution; others will interpret it as an account of an obsession that takes over a person's life. But Barnes' novel is not a philosophical treatise. His narrator is not motivated merely by curiosity. The novel is fundamentally a love story." -The Conversation

"A lyrical, thoughtful and intriguing exploration of love, grief and the collective myths of history. Barnes adds yet another remarkable title to his astoundingly remarkable body of work." -Booklist

"A singular tale." -Daily Mail (UK)

"Everything Barnes writes changes everything . . . Barnes's latest novel, must be read at least twice for the full force of its voltage to be felt . . . A cryptic crossword of a novel, Elizabeth Finch is a trickier and even brainier version of Flaubert's Parrot." -Frances Wilson, Oldie
"A bravura exercise in nimbly handled erudition. . . . A connoisseur and master of irony himself, [Julian Barnes] fills this book with instances of its exhilarating power." -Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
"Elizabeth Finch ranks alongside Barnes' best." -Joshua Pugh Ginn, UK Press Syndication
"A new novel from Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes is always a literary event, and Elizabeth Finch . . . is not different. Wistful, thought-provoking stuff." -Sunday Telegraph
"This is . . . Julian Barnes . . . in his best ambitious high concept mode, serious and playful at once." -The Tablet
"A surprisingly compelling novel . . . a thought-provoking book that plays with the relationship between author and reader." ―Lady

Biographical Note

JULIAN BARNES is the author of twenty-four previous books, for which he has received the Man Booker Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Prix Médicis and Prix Femina. In 2017 he was awarded the Légion d'honneur, and in 2021 the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in London.