John Banville is an absolutely incredible writer. He crafts these amazing sentences that are sheer gorgeousness. But for some reason, the books of his that I've read just don't grab me. This one was no exception. While I loved the writing, the plot failed to really engage me. It started off intriguing and then kind of meandered, to the point that I actually set the book aside for a week or so and had to force myself to return to it, at which point, I had really lost touch with the novel and forgotten about some of the seemingly minor portions, which ultimately left me a bit confused and totally unable to appreciate the subtle complexities of the narrative structure. Alas. It's not that the plot is dull or anything - for the first third of the book, I actually found it rather gripping. But it ended up going in a rather different direction, turning to a portion of the story that I was less interested in, and abandoning the really fascinating part. In a way, I admire the fact that the plot is centered around a secret and never really reveals it - it's a bold move. And I suppose it's part of a grander reflection on privacy and perspective and if I really took the time to delve into the text, I'd be blown away by it. But it was just buried a bit too deep for me, I suppose.
All the same, I have every intention of reading more of his books, because I'm convinced that at least one of them will give me the satisfying plot that I need to really love it (my next attempt, I think, will be The Sea). Because the writing is such an incredible pleasure; these poignant observations in beautifully wrought prose, that I feel like at some point, he must come up with a story worthy of his telling it.