The Only Story by Julian Barnes, hosted by Jill, October 28 2021

From Jane:

Thank you, Jill, for a lovely and lively evening discussing Julian Barnes and the Only Story. Sorry we could not maintain the connection with Bev and we missed Jeanne, Ann and Esther.

From Bev:

I must say I wasn’t fond of Paul but would not call him entirely cowardly. Perhaps a pompous young man that gets in way over his head and has this incredible sense of Loyalty and trying to figure out what is love. Challenged when he is asked about his relationship to Susan and lies, never really vocalizing the nature of their affair? I wondered how he was able to get his law degree and so I would assume Susan footed the bills. A very unhealthy relationship where he fumbles along but up until Susan spirals into dementia does he see that he must get out of the relationship and by that time although in retrospect he is more objective, his personal life is a shambles. And I am not sympathetic to Susan, she is the adult in this story or supposed to be. The reality is that the state of her marriage is of her own making. She married not for love but for security and a bandage over the losing the man she truly loved. Once when Susan was in a drunken state, she called Paul by the name of her former lover. That triggered the thought that perhaps Paul was a substitute for this lost love. I also wondered when her dementia really started. Or was she actually manipulative with Paul. After all we only see Susan through the eyes of Paul. But then again, the story is titled “The Only Story”.  I was watching the movie The Graduate earlier this month and the role of Mrs. Robinson started me thinking a little differently about Paul and Susan. A tragedy really.

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