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Before She Met Me Paperback – International Edition, October 1, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

   • "Funny, sad and faintly ominous... making jealousy tangible and dangerous." --Spectator 

   • "An intelligent and addictive entertainment... Mr. Barnes has succeeded in writing one of those books that keep us up until 2am reading just one chapter more... few will be able to resist its easy humour and almost insidious readability." --New York Times Book Review

From the Inside Flap

At the start of this fiendishly comic and suspenseful novel, a mild-mannered English academic chuckles as he watches his wife commit adultery. The action takes place before she met him. But lines between film and reality, past and present become terrifyingly blurred in this sad and funny tour de force from the author of Flaubert's Parrot. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (October 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009954007X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099540076
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,120,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julian Barnes is the author of nine novels, including Metroland, Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters, England, England and Arthur and George, and two collections of short stories, Cross Channel and The Lemon Table.

Customer Reviews

The ____ of the main character.
A Reader
It must have felt even a little out of touch to contemporary readers back then.
C. Broughton
I liked the story and the style.
Kurt VonBigglesworth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "labibliophile" on April 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Before She Met Me is a book filled with the great British humor of Julian Barnes. It has its flaws, to be sure, but they are minor ones. One of the characters is truly reprehensible, but his appearances are so few and far between that I think his horrid behavior can easily be overlooked.
What bothered me more, with this book, were the female characters. One of them seems quite true to life but the other one did not. She seemed wooden, a cardboard cutout. Barnes is a terrific writer, but in my opinion, he has yet to create a believable, good, female character.
The writing in this book is really first rate British humor (I expect it may be too British for some). It is an escapist book but I don't think that should lessen its importance. After all, don't we all need to escape now and then?
If you want to laugh and have a little fun, if you want to forget your troubles for awhile, then try Before She Met Me. It might do you a world of good. It did me.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on April 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
The topic of exploring the sexual jealousy of a man regarding his wife's past lovers is, in my opinion, a largely unexplored aspect of life in litereature. For those who found it unrealistic, let your imagination run wild the next time your lover discusses his or her past relationships.

Unfortunately, the way it was encountered here was so over the top that it became so absurd that it seemed to parody itself. Some people may have found this funny, but I would argue that it undermined the value of undertaking reading the book; it would be hard to say that this is 'humor writing' or to even call this a funny book.

That said, I agree with many people here in regards to the characters. All of them, seemed to be not only unlikeable but also unconvincing. They have no comlexity to them what-so-ever. They are all one sided caricatures: the shrewish wife, the crude writer, the subservient and loyal wife, and the obsessed man. All their characterization could be summed up with one adjective, and that's obviously not good.

And the end, well, we've all seen it. It was an easy way out. The jealousy remained. Alternatives were never truly explored (unless you include 'wanking'). And so the most hackneyed ending in the history of literature was tagged on at the end of the book. The ____ of the main character.

If you are to read Barnes, please read Flaubert's Parrot or The History of the World... They are both wonderful and it would sad if reading this would stop anyone from reading them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Broughton on July 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
A book with a great title and intriguing concept that does not live up to its promise.

'Before She Met Me' is fashioned around an interesting situation regarding the jealous obsessions that a certain type of man can fall into regarding his faithful partner's previous sexual relationships, real or imagined. This story could have been an absorbing study into jealousy and relationships, but when it's taken as a whole the plot arc and characters are unconvincing. The opening chapter was clever and drew me in, but in the end I felt flat and unengaged as a reader. It just feels lazy, like Julian Barnes had a good idea for a book but couldn't be bothered with doing the work or background prep.

The cast of characters are caricatures devoid of complexity. The protagonist Graham is completely unlikeable and his best friend, Jack, unbelievable -- an excessive and indulgent piece of characterisation. The only character I had some fellow feeling for was Ann, Graham's wife. The other two women characters are clumsy plot devices with no substance: Graham's ex-wife Barbara is just a distant cliché and Jack's wife a cardboard cut-out place holder. Although I felt a mild intellectual and emotive interest in Graham's predicament it was difficult to work up any sympathy for this boring, uninspiring, obsessive cartoon of a man. If anything, I felt increasing annoyance and intolerance for his increasingly stupid and selfish behaviour, which becomes increasingly less plausible and more disproportionate to its causes. Barnes, for a professional novelist, does not seem to have a good grasp of emotive and motivating factors in this particular novel, as Graham's 'deterioration' is presented in an unedifying and dubious succession of incidents.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
Julian Barnes must be one of the most various of English novelists writing today. FLAUBERT'S PARROT is virtually a piece of literary history in novel form. A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 10½ CHAPTERS is just that, a very peculiar history starting with Eden and moving on from there. ARTHUR AND GEORGE is a linked biography of two contrasting but real figures from the late 19th century. Each of these uses a totally different narrative form, and none is exactly what you would call a normal novel. By contrast, BEFORE SHE MET ME is closer to conventional fiction in containing made-up characters and having a beginning, middle, and end. It is a kind of Bluebeard story in reverse, in which it is now the husband who becomes jealous of his wife's former lovers.

Graham Hendrick is an academic historian, used to uncovering the relics of the past and teasing out their meaning; in this case, however, his training leads him only into trouble. While caught in a stale marriage, he falls for a younger woman called Ann, and divorces his wife in order to marry her. Ann is open and devoted, and Graham discovers new life under her influence.
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