Roy's Tactical Chunder

I mostly read random books I find in charity shops or in bargain bins. I am most happy when they are published in the 1980s and end with at least one character dead from cocaine addiction.

Before She Met Me


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.