Ancient Light

John Banville

First Sentence:       Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.

Back of the book:

Alexander Cleave, an actor who thinks his best days are behind him, remembers his first unlikely affair as a teenage boy in a small town in 1950s Ireland: the illicit meetings in a rundown cottage outside town; assignations in the back of his lover’s car on sunny mornings and rain-soaked afternoons. And with these early memories comes something sharper and much darker – the more recent recollection of the actor’s own daughter’s suicide ten years before.

Ancient Light is the story of a life rendered brilliantly vivid: the obsession and selfishness of young love and the terrifying shock of grief. It is a dazzling novel, funny, utterly pleasurable and devastatingly moving in the same moment.

Quotes from the book:

“I should like to be in love again, I should like to fall in love again, just once more.”

I will glimpse in the street a head of wheat-coloured hair retreating among the hurrying crowd, , or a slender hand lifting and waving farewell in a certain way; I will hear a phrase of laughter from the far side of a hotel lobby, or just a word spoken with a recognised, warm inflection, and on the instant this or that she will be there, vividly, fleetingly, and my heart like an old dog will scramble up and give a wistful woof.

* * * *

Last Sentence:       The light around the curtain was stronger now, a light that seemed somehow to shake within itself even as it strengthened, and it was as if some radiant being were advancing towards the house, over the grey grass, across the mossed yard, great trembling wings spread wide, and waiting for it, waiting, I slipped without noticing into sleep.

Beautifully written, as always…