Ancient Light 2012


A story of obsessive young love and the power of grief, Ancient Light is the best novel yet from the Booker Prize winner of The Sea.

‘Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.’

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.

‘I should like to be in love again, I should like to fall in love again, just once more.’

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.

‘He is a master, and his prose gives continuous, sensual delight’
— Martin Amis on John Banville