What letter? Feb 14, 2009
Don't read this book if you want to learn about Newton's letter - the two letter's by Newton referred to in the book, one historical, one fantasy, are seen only out of the corner of the eye, never in full view, and, for much of the book, forgotten all together. The main character in this brief novella- the narrator with no name - spends a few months in a rented cottage to finish his book about Newton, but gets wrapped up in the goings on at the main house. Although his mis-conceptions about this family become apparent as the story approaches the end, much is left unknown, or at least unspoken. No tidy package at the end.
Banville's prose sets the mood well, with a strong sense of place. However, neither the place nor any of the people that populate this story seem very likeable, including the narrator. Thus, it's tough to get drawn into the story. It may be realism, but the ending is unsatisfying. Still, it's worth the short time to read it, especially as part of Banville's impressive body of work.