If you were to ask me who my favorite writers were, I would probably not list Julian Barnes, yet this last novel of his I read is the fourth of his I can remember reading, and I went through it relatively quickly. From what I can gather this sophomore novel was not very well received when it came out, and I can understand why.
It is a novel about a man's mid-life crisis - a middle class historian called Graham - so expect alcohol, younger women and a propensity to pent-up Freudian rage. Keeping these things in mind, the novel speeds to its conclusion and fails to develop the women characters or their responses to Graham's actions, in particular his ex-wife Barbara, whose marginal role does not reflect her agency in the events that play out.
With all that in mind, it was a piece of its time and shows a novelist reaching beyond his own experience for the first time (his debut, Metroland, is a roman a clef about his own adolescence and time studying in France) and feeling his way through. A great read for Barnes fans or those, like me, who enjoy novels set in the late seventies/early eighties Britain.