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Talking It Over  By  cover art

Talking It Over

By: Julian Barnes
Narrated by: Steven Pacey,Alex Jennings,Clare Higgins
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Publisher's Summary

Clare Higgins, Alex Jennings and Steven Pacey read Man Booker Prize-winning author Julian Barnes' 'he said, she said' novel.

Introducing Stuart, Gillian and Oliver. One by one they take their turn to speak straight out to the camera - and give their side of a contemporary love triangle. What begins as a comedy of misunderstanding slowly darkens and deepens into a compelling exploration of the quagmires of the heart.

©1991 Julian Barnes (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“tour de force of alternating monologue…three impeccable actors, Steven Pacey, Alex Jennings, and Clare Higgins…and there isn't a false note anywhere. A wonderful performance.” ( AudioFile)
"An interplay of serious thought and dazzling wit. . . . It's moving, it's funny, it's frightening . . . fiction at its best." ( New York Times Book Review)
A witty and provocative novel from the author of the masterpiece Flaubert's Parrot.” ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about Talking It Over

Average Customer Ratings
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Narrative Gimmick Works

This was my first Julian Barnes novel, and I immensely enjoyed it. I'll be seeking out more of his work. Some other readers have complained that the concept of the alternating three different first-person narrators felt gimmicky or confusing, but I have to disagree with that. The essence of the story is simple, the real magic comes from the personal insights of these three complex and different characters. Discovering and anticipating the way each views the various situations in the plot kept me wanting more, perhaps because their reactions were all so believable. To paraphrase Gillian, Barnes takes an ordinary situation and manages to make it truly unique.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Another great work by Barns, but narration... well

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I had a hard time distinguishing the transitions between Steven Pacey & Alex Jennings, so I often got confused as to which character was speaking. That got in the way of my enjoyment of a good book. I picked it because I had enjoyed The Sense of an Ending (not available on Audible).

1 person found this helpful

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  • DAVID
  • 05-03-19

Predictable, implausible and unsatisfying

Beginning as a menage a trois between three London stereotypes this became increasingly implausible and less interesting.
A promising structure & with good performances...it could have been clever and gripping.
But there were no radical plot developments - no witty twists...on it plodded.
How did it conclude? I'm not really sure - to me it just seemed to peter out, the characters fading into the background.
In the end I didn't really care who did what to whom or what happened as a result.

2 people found this helpful

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  • M
  • 01-24-21

Wise and witty

Barnes' work is a delight. Light on the surface but offering profound observations on the vagaries of the human heart.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J
  • 02-15-18

Disappointing

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I would make it more emotionally engaging, make characters more interesting and sympathetic, so I could care about them. Of course not every book need to be emotionally engaging and it's characters likable. It could be cold analysis of human behaviour, but I don't think it was the intention of the author.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Although the ending is quite violent it left me indifferent. It clearly suggest that a sequel is coming.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

It is hard to distinguish immediately who is talking Stuart or Oliver. It takes some time to observe 'Oh this is Stuart/Oliver talking!' I didn't like their interpretation of their characters, especially, often excessively brash. Also it doesn't help that the interpreter of the female main character Gillian do also, her mother, landlady, hotel owner etc. All in first-person voice.

Do you think Talking It Over needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Obviously, as I mentioned above, it ends like the end of a first volume of a novel, but I doubt I'll be interested in follow up.

Any additional comments?

I bought this book after listening excellent The Sense of an Ending and I expected something on this level but I was dearly disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-01-18

Entertaining

Really enjoyed this book, a window into the lives of ordinary people in some way. Characters which aren’t likeable but you want to hear from. Narration was excellent, like hearing a play. Lots of humour and I love Barnes way with words.
It could have done with being a little shorter is my only criticism - the Val section seemed superfluous but maybe there was some intricacy that I missed in that part. Overall, great listen.

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  • Peter
  • 08-14-22

Excellent

Great story & perfectly read - It takes you on a journey, never quite going where you think it might,

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-05-22

A trifle (and a trifle dull)

This story of love and loss (and yes, it is the eternal triangle come out of a temporary retirement) is told using an unusual narrative device. All the characters address the reader (listener) in monologue only. They talk about each other - they do a lot of that - but they never talk to each other.

The book starts sinking early on when one of the three central characters turns out to be an obnoxious little poseur and, worse still, also an over written and not believable example of the type. I finished the book, but I did not yearn for more.