The Newton Letter, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


'A nearly perfectly fashioned work of art ...The Newton Letter gave this reader such pleasurable excitement that he found it impossible to concentrate on anything until he had read it again to make sure that it seemed as good on the seconding reading.

It did' Irish Times A historian, on the brink of completing a book on Isaac Newton, rents a cottage in southern Ireland for the summer.

As the summer wears on and he dissects Newton's mental collapse of 1693 he becomes distracted by the mysterious occupants of Fern House and finds himself constructing their imagined histories to powerful effect.

His elaborate attempts to decipher the complex web of relationships are, however, far from accurate ...'How is one to convey half-adequately that Banville's The Newton Letter is something out of the ordinary?' Sunday Times 'Banville's prose has a dazzling amplitude and resource ...a novelist of international calibre' Boston Globe 'Very precise and evocative ...full of teasing alignments and variations' Financial Times Volume Three of the Revolutions Trilogy




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A historian and writer rents a small cottage in Ireland. He sets out to write a book about Newton and the madness that came upon him late in life. This particular theme is however undeveloped and unresolved by the end of the book. Instead the reader is taken to the second strand of the story in which the writer becomes unhealthily fixated upon Charlotte Lawless and her niece,Ottilie. This fixation ends up almost destroying him. I found several parallels here with the works of H.E. Bates,in particular his short story 'The Mill'. Although this is far from Banville's best work, it is nevertheless well worth reading,and as as always with this author,he has important things to say.

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