Levels of Life

Levels of Life

3.91 (6,983 ratings by Goodreads)
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You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed...

In Levels of Life Julian Barnes gives us Nadar, the pioneer balloonist and aerial photographer; he gives us Colonel Fred Burnaby, reluctant adorer of the extravagant Sarah Bernhardt; then, finally, he gives us the story of his own grief, unflinchingly observed.

This is a book of intense honesty and insight; it is at once a celebration of love and a profound examination of sorrow.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 128 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 8mm | 109g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099584530
  • 9780099584537
  • 106,943

Review Text

A grief-stricken, achingly precise and bravely unconsoling exploration into the inadequacy of words.
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Review quote

A confession of grief so emotively described that it leaves the reader cold with awe. -- Billy O'Callaghan * Irish Examiner * An impassioned, raw insight into a survivor's grief. * Sport * A grief-stricken, achingly precise and bravely unconsoling exploration into the inadequacy of words. * Metro * He writes with aphoristic simplicity and a calm profundity, without ever sounding self-pitying, maudlin or trite... Levels of Life is at times unbearably sad, but it is also exquisite: a paean of love, and on love, and a book unexpectedly full of life. -- Rosemary Goring * Herald * Profoundly emotive. * Sunday Times * It is true that the private language of love doesn't generally translate; yet how vividly Barnes invokes the power and delicacy of what is lost to him. -- Jane Shilling * Sunday Telegraph * Powerful and well-articulated. -- Roger Lewis * Daily Mail * A magnificent blast of unflinching prose. * Daily Telegraph * A Taj Mahal made of paper not white marble. -- Peter Conrad * Observer * Levels of Life is, deep-down, a heartfelt attempt to chronicle the strange journey that follows the death of a loved one. -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday * While one might expect a Barnes book to impress, delight, move, disconcert or amuse, the last thing for which his work prepares us is the blast of paralysingly direct emotion that concludes Levels of Life. -- Tim Martin * Daily Telegraph * Levels of Life is both a supremely crafted artefact and a desolating guidebook to the land of loss. -- John Carey * Sunday Times * It's an unrestrained, affecting piece of writing, raw and honest and more truthful for its dignity and artistry... Anyone who has loved and suffered loss, or just suffered, should read this book, and re-read it, and re-read it. -- Martin Fletcher * Independent * This is a book of rare intimacy and honesty about love and grief. To read it is a privilege. To have written it is astonishing. -- Ruth Scurr * The Times * It is extraordinary... [It] would seem to pull off the impossible: to recreate, on the page, what it is like to be alive in the world. -- Emma Brockes * Guardian *
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About Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes is the author of thirteen novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and Sunday Times bestsellers The Noise of Time and The Only Story. He has also written three books of short stories, four collections of essays and three books of non-fiction, including the Sunday Times number one bestseller Levels of Life and The Man in the Red Coat, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Duff Cooper Prize. In 2017 he was awarded the Legion d'honneur.
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Rating details

6,983 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 30% (2,072)
4 41% (2,886)
3 22% (1,503)
2 6% (389)
1 2% (133)
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