Book Review: Ancient Light by John Banville

This month I joined it with the Britmums Book Club and read Ancient Light by John Banville.

I joined the Book Club as I really want to read more and it is great to have my eyes opened to books that I might otherwise not have read. Ancient Light is certainly a book that I would not have read if it was not for the Book Club.

I found it difficult to get into the book. It is written in a sort of stream of consciousness, the language is convoluting and overly descriptive and it is hard to get into. This isn’t only a bad thing though – I became much more acquainted with my dictionary, I learnt new vocabulary and the book really made me concentrate when reading.

The plot is essentially about a man remembering a past love affair, whilst embarking upon a new undertaking and forging new friendships. Nothing really happens, and I am sure this is meant to be the case. The story rotates around the protagonist’s memory of his past, he is confused, and yet clear at the same time. He is sure that his memory is tricking him. We are left with a sense of the unreal – did what he describe actually happen as he remembers? The same theme is echoed in the plot centred on the present. Not much actually happens and where it does the reader is left unsure what actually has happened, and moreover what is the significance of it.

For me the book fundamentally failed to grasp me. I didn’t resonate with the descriptions, the relationship wasn’t ‘sexy’ to me, I didn’t empathise or associate with the characters and there was a failure to connect, interestingly enough, similar to the one that the writer is trying to portray.

I’d recommend it for an interesting and thought provoking read into the art of literature itself, but it’s not a quick chick lit read and you may, like me come away feeling a little empty and disappointed.

ancient light john banville


I was sent a copy of this book for free for the purposes of this review.




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