From the Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011 Staring at the Sun charts the life of Jean Serjeant, from her beginning as a naive, carefree country girl before the war through to her wry and trenchant old age in the year 2020. We follow her bruising experience in marriage, her probing of male truths, her adventures in motherhood and in ...Read MoreFrom the Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011 Staring at the Sun charts the life of Jean Serjeant, from her beginning as a naive, carefree country girl before the war through to her wry and trenchant old age in the year 2020. We follow her bruising experience in marriage, her probing of male truths, her adventures in motherhood and in China and we cannot fail to be moved by the questions she asks of life and the often unsatisfactory answers it provides.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1987-02-20 From guileless child to implausibly innocent adolescent and young woman, Jean Serjeantthe central figure in this wonderfully imagined novel by the gifted author of Flaubert's Parrotunaccountably (and perhaps a mite too easily) becomes a mature woman who, without losing her endearing, wide-eyed qualities, acquires a wisdom that lies beyond reason. The narrative of her unremarkable life would otherwise seem drab: she marries the village policeman and stays unhappily married for 20 years, whenseemingly beyond childbearingshe brings forth a son and thereupon leaves her marriage to enter the wider world. A grounded RAF pilot (who cracked under the strain of combat) tells her that he ``stared at the sun'' flying a combat mission in 1941, on the day it had risen twice in what he calls an ``ordinary miracle.'' What is astonishing and moving about Jean's life is its very conventionality and ordinariness; it is as though the author had challenged himself to make poetry out of dust. At the venerable age of 100 in the year 2021, Jean is able to give her son definitive answers to the ultimate questions about death (it is ``absolute''), religion (``nonsense''), suicide (not ``permissible'') while retaining an undiminished sense of awe in the face of a mysterious universe, as she herself, with the fitting grandeur of her unspoiled simplicity, flies up and up into the sky, staring at the sun. (April 2)
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