'Sleek, beautiful, breathtakingly cunning prose' Sunday Times Morrow -- a clerkish, middle-aged type encumbered with a chain-smoking dying aunt and a considerable talent for wallowing -- is at a loose end when, on two separate occasions, he is beckoned up the stairs of an empty Dublin house. The first is an offer of dubious work, and Morrow soon ...Read More'Sleek, beautiful, breathtakingly cunning prose' Sunday Times Morrow -- a clerkish, middle-aged type encumbered with a chain-smoking dying aunt and a considerable talent for wallowing -- is at a loose end when, on two separate occasions, he is beckoned up the stairs of an empty Dublin house. The first is an offer of dubious work, and Morrow soon becomes caught up in a conspiracy to authenticate a series of fake paintings. The second, possibly even odder, is an offer of a love -- of a sort. Written in typically luminous prose and featuring a rich cast of characters, Athena is a paean to art, painting, and love, in all its mercurial richness. 'One of the most profoundly intelligent, introspective novels of recent years, questioning the perceptions of author, narrator, reader and critic' Good Book Guide 'The consummately achieved and entrancing creation of a master of language: in the fullest sense a work of art' Scotsman 'Athena is a love letter to Morrow's passions, to love, to art and to the paintings he examines: works on classical themes, in which a moment's obsession, lust, loss and magic are preserved for ever' Literary Review Volume Three of the Frames TrilogyRead Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1996-04-08 Irish novelist Banville offers a literary thriller in which his guilt-plagued narrator is drawn into both an art theft and a passionate affair with a mysterious woman. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1995-04-03 While beautifully written and filled with intriguing questions about the nature of truth and the reliability of memory, Banville's new novel is neither as emotionally compelling as The Book of Evidence nor as stylistically challenging as Ghosts, with which it forms a loose trilogy. Although his name is now Morrow, the narrator of this shadowy tale involving stolen paintings and a doomed love affair is probablyæbut only probablyæFrederick Montgomery, the tortured protagonist of Evidence and the unnamed narrator of Ghosts. There are several references to the murder for which Montgomery was imprisoned, and if the narrator is not the same man, then why does Inspector Hackett recognize him and assume his knowledge of the artwork purloined from Whitewater House, scene of Montgomery's crime? In fact, the narrator, who apparently has some fine-art expertise, has been asked by the menacing underworld figure Morden to authenticate these paintings, eight 17th-century works whose subject matterævarious stages in the ever-shifting balance of power between men and womenæmirrors the progress of Morrow's affair with a mysterious woman he calls ``A.'' The couple's sexual games grow increasingly dangerous as the police close in on the stolen paintings, but nothing is what it seems: the artworks are forgeriesæor are they? Morrow's lover is Morden's wifeæor is she? Banville creates a dreamlike world of pervasive unease and a sense of loss fueled by the narrator's unspecified guilt (he may also be responsible for a series of gruesome murders), but the point of all this angst is never quite clear. Nonetheless, the novel's evocative physical detail and provocative metaphysical musings make an impact. (May)
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