In his first novel since The Untouchable, John Banville gives us the intensely emotional story of a man discovering for the first time who he has been and what he is becoming.
Alexander Cleavea famous actor who took to the stage to give myself a cast of characters to inhabit who would be . . . of more weight and moment than I could ever hope to befaces the almost certain collapse of his thirty-year career. In physical and psychological retreat, he returns to his abandoned childhood home, believing that, away from his wife and daughter, away from the world at large, alone, without an audience of any kind, he might finally stop performing, catch himself in the act of living, and simply be.
But the house is unexpectedly populated. There are Cleaves memories, which seem to rise up out of the house itself: of the years during his childhood when his mother took in boarders; of the beginnings, and the beginnings-of-the-end, of his career and his marriage; of the course of his relationship with his now estranged daughter; and of his father, who committed suicide when Cleave was still a boy. There are the corporeal, but illicit, inhabitants of the house: the caretaker, an unsettling presence with the ageless aspect of a wastrel son, and the fifteen-year-old housekeeper, a voluptuary of indolence. And there are the apparitions (ghosts? premonitions? visitations?)a woman, a child, and a third, ill-defined figurewho Cleave feels are intricately involved in the problem of whatever it is that has gone wrong with me.
Struggling to determine what exactly has gone wrong, and to understand what part the apparitions play in his life and he in theirs, Cleave slowly comes to see the ways in which things and peoplehimself includedare not what they seem, and the ways in which, inevitably, they reveal what they are.
Brilliantly conjured and realized, Eclipse is John Banville at his unique best.