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The InfinitiesThe Infinities by John Banville

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book as it has some beautiful writing in it and some wonderfully keen observations, but I doubt I would have gotten through it if I hadn't read it on audiobook.

Synopsis from Amazon: "On a languid midsummer’s day in the countryside, old Adam Godley, a renowned theoretical mathematician, is dying. His family gathers at his bedside: his son, young Adam, struggling to maintain his marriage to a radiantly beautiful actress; his nineteen-year-old daughter, Petra, filled with voices and visions as she waits for the inevitable; their mother, Ursula, whose relations with the Godley children are strained at best; and Petra’s “young man”—very likely more interested in the father than the daughter—who has arrived for a superbly ill-timed visit.

But the Godley family is not alone in their vigil. Around them hovers a family of mischievous immortals—among them, Zeus, who has his eye on young Adam’s wife; Pan, who has taken the doughy, perspiring form of an old unwelcome acquaintance; and Hermes, who is the genial and omniscient narrator: “We too are petty and vindictive,” he tells us, “just like you, when we are put to it.” As old Adam’s days on earth run down, these unearthly beings start to stir up trouble, to sometimes wildly unintended effect."

The book is set in an alternative universe, for no reason that I can discern, and it is very high-minded, classist, and pretentious. I don't necessarily mind that, if I feel like I have an entertaining story, but this does not. The ending, in fact, without giving it away, made the whole thing that much more disappointing. As I said, there are some good things in it, but the whole is not equal to the sum of its parts.

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