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About the book:

Oliver, Stuart, and Gillian have been friends and lovers. But it's been 10 years since this backbiting trio, which Julian Barnes first introduced in Talking It Over, last met--and a lot has changed. For starters, Oliver has married Gillian, and Stuart, his erstwhile best friend, hates him for it. Not just because Stuart was once married to Gillian, but because he still loves her and has never ceased to regard himself as her savior. Under the guise of repairing old friendships--"all blood under the bridge"--this mild-mannered third wheel insinuates himself into the couple's life by offering advice, providing support, and even giving Oliver a job. Once he's maneuvered his nemesis into a crippling depression, Stuart unveils his master plan.

In Love, Etc. Barnes adopts the same technique he used in the earlier installment, allowing his characters to speak their innermost thoughts and secrets directly to the reader--and just about everybody gets some good lines. (Oliver: "Yes, everything went swimmingly, which is a very peculiar adverb to apply to a social event, considering how most human beings swim.") But the book is also a bewitchingly intimate excursion into betrayal and jealousy. With painstaking detail, Barnes creates a vibrant portrait of a modern love triangle--as funny as it is cruel, as absurd as it is deep. Few contemporary writers can portray Middle England, with all its temptations, so darkly. --Matthew Baylis

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