Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!
Is there a difference between memory and invention? That is the question that haunts Alexander Cleave as he reflects on his first, and perhaps only, love—an underage affair with his best friend’s mother. When his stunted acting career is suddenly, inexplicably revived with a movie role playing a man who may not be who he claims, his young leading lady—famous and fragile—unwittingly gives him the opportunity to see, with startling clarity, the gap between the things he has done and the way he recalls them. Profoundly moving, Ancient Light is written with the depth of character, clarifying lyricism, and heart-wrenching humor that mark all of Man Booker Prize-winning author John Banville’s extraordinary works.
“A wise, sad and achingly gorgeous book.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Transcendent. . . . [Banville’s] prose . . . has a kind of luxuriant beauty, and, given the number of gorgeous arias written in different keys in many sharps and flats, the novel has a feel of a feverish atonal chamber opera. . . . One reads Ancient Light in a state of slightly stunned admiration.” —Charles Baxter, The New York Review of Books
“A brilliant meditation on desire and loss.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“An adolescent love story comparable with Turgenev’s great novella ‘First Love.’ Seamless, profound . . . it is an unsettling and beautiful work.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Flashes with comedy. . . . [Filled with] Banville’s brilliant prose.” —The Plain Dealer
“The most striking thing about the book is the language. Line after line is stuffed with poetic effects.” —The New Yorker
“[A] meditation of breathtaking beauty and profundity on love and loss and death, the final page of which brought tears. The Stockholm jury should pick up the phone now.” —The Financial Times
“A luminous, breathtaking work. . . . Banville perfectly captures the spirit of adolescence, the body yearning for sexual experience, the mind blurring eroticism and emotion. . . . [He] is a Nabokovian artist, his prose so rich, poetic and packed with startling imagery that reading it is akin to gliding regally through a lake of praline: it’s a slow, stately process, delicious and to be savoured.” —The Independent (London)
“Beautiful. . . . Banville is the heir to Proust, via Nabokov.” —The Daily Beast
“A haunting vision of a past slipping away even as it is pursued.”—The Columbus Dispatch
“Ancient Light lives up to its title as an accomplished tale of the tricks of memory and time that both comfort and deceive.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“The prose is precise, beautiful, musical, freshly sprung. . . . Catch [the light] right, as Banville does, and everything is illuminated.” —The Times (London)
“Sulky, sordid, and moving. The language soars, full of the beauty of nature and the sadness of loss.” —Marie Claire (UK)
“Shows how first love remains our only love, how it spawns the pattern of our desires, how it imprints Eros on the soul. . . . Banville is such a masterful writer that we never lose our focus. . . . Heartbreaking.” —The Wichita Eagle
“Banville, a writer of exquisite precision and emotional depth, writes with droll inquisition and entrancing sensuality in this suspenseful drama of the obliviousnessness of lust and the weight of grief.” —Booklist (starred)