Elizabeth Finch

by Julian Barnes


This novel is about a man named Neil who is obsessed with his university professor Elizabeth Fitch. The novel serves as a homage to this woman who inspired our narrator to, well, to think. Although Neil loves Elizabeth’s class (Culture and Civilization), he does not write his final essay and instead invites Elizabeth to lunch. Lunch becomes biannual event where Neil and Elizabeth meet and talk, with Elizabeth always giving Neil something to think about and paying for lunch.
When Elizabeth dies, she leaves her academic journals, and Neil has to decide what to do with them.
Along the way, Neil decides to write that final essay he never got around to writing all those years ago. The author includes this lengthy essay about Roman Emporer Julian Apostate within the pages of the novel itself.
I found this short novel somewhat interesting. It definitely was a deviation from the summer reads I have been consuming. There is no real suspense or intricate plot to speak of; rather, it is more a novel about a man’s relationship with a woman he found fascinating.
The character Elizabeth Fitch compelling; I would have loved to have read HER story. This novel isn’t for everyone. It seemed to me that Barnes wrote this story more for himself rather than to entertain the reader, which is perfectly fine with me.

Thank you to Netgalley for the free copy.

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