Boekverslag : Julian Barnes - Before She Met Me
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Title : Before She Met Me

Author : Julian Barnes

Genre : (ironic) love story

Explanation of the title

Before Ann had met Graham Hendrick, she had lived a totally different life, occurring to her present life. She had a short career as an actress in British B-movies, which she gave up a while ago. When Graham Hendrick thinks about Ann’s past, he thinks of the time before she met him, from his point of view: before she met me.


The story takes place in Britain, near London, because Graham works at London University.

The story could be happening twenty years ago, but it could also be happening now.

The main character(s)

The main character is Graham Hendrick. He is married to Barbara, but he leaves her when he meets Ann. He is a history teacher at London University, and leads an uneventful life. When he meets Ann, his life changes. First he is very happy with Ann. But when he finds out about her past, he is becoming more and more suspicious. He can’t forget about Ann’s past, and it turns out into a kind of obsession. When he finds out that Ann had had an affair with Jack Lupton, he seems to find proof that they still have a relation. Finally he kills Jack a commits suicide.

The minor character(s)

The minor characters are: Ann, Jack Lupton, Barbara, Alice and Sue.

Ann meets Graham at a party, and she fells in love to him. One thing Graham doesn’t know about her past: she had been an actress in B-movies, and had had several relations including with Jack. In spite of her turbulent past, she loves the ‘normal’ Graham.

Jack Lupton is married to Sue. He is an old friend of Graham. Jack writes novels, and is a notorious womaniser an adulterer. In his past, he had an affair with Ann. Jack gives Graham often good advises. But when Graham suspects him, of having an affair with Ann, he is killed by Graham.

Barabara was married to Graham, before he met Ann.

Alice is the daughter of Graham and Barbara.

Sue is married to Jack Lupton.

Theme or message

The author is trying to make clear, that if you are a born looser, you’ll never get better. Graham had an unhappy marriage with Barbara. When he meets Ann, who loves him very much, he still isn’t able to make it into a good marriage. And he ends as a drop-out.

Writer’s info

Julian Barnes was born in Leicester in 1946. He attended Magdalen College, Oxford. He considered a career in law or philosophy, but worked as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary, and after that landed on his feet as a journalist. He was a restaurant criticiser for The Tatler, as a TV criticiser for The Observer and worked as a literary editor for The Sunday Times.

At the age of forty, Barnes gave up journalism and became a full-time writer of fiction. He has written a lot books. A typical device for the writer Barnes is: he plays with time as he does with the themes that govern human lives.

Personal Opinion

1) The person I liked in the story is: Ann. The person I disliked in the story is: Barbara.

I particularly liked Ann, because she is a gentle woman. She loves Graham, and she isn’t cheating on him. She has had a strange past, but she isn’t spoil therefor. She acts very kind on Graham’s failures. She is a perfect woman.

2) Jack reminds me of Robbert Alberts from ‘Good Times, Bad Times’, because he’s also committing adultery very often.

3) I had to laugh when Graham told Barbara that he hadn’t seen the film in which Ann played. Barbara thought that her plan had failed, but in fact Graham did watch the film.

4) My favourite part of the story was when Graham wanted to kill Jack. That part was nice, because I knew Graham wanted to kill Jack, but I didn’t know when. And when Graham killed Jack, it was very bloody and scary, and I like that.

5) The problem is that Graham can’t stop thinking about Ann’s past, he is getting obsessed by it. The problem isn’t resolved at the end of the story. Graham can’t handle living with Jack and Ann anymore, so he kills Jack and then commits suicide.

6) I won’t handle the problem in the same way. I’m not planning to commit suicide. I think that there always other options to solve a problem.

7) I have learned, that you must leave your or other’s past behind you. You live now, you can think about the future, because you can ‘change’ that, but the past had already happened, and you can’t change that.

8) I would give an 8+ to this book.

9) I think I would recommend this book to anybody else, because it isn’t hard to read, it’s an up-to-date subject and especially boys will like it, because there are a lot of describings about Graham and Ann making love.


When Graham Hendrick meets Ann at a party of Jack, he falls in love to her. He decides to leave his wife Barbara and his daughter Alice, and buys a house with his new wife Ann.

One afternoon he takes his daughter to the cinema (the film was suggested to her by Barabara) and to his surprise he sees his new wife Ann commit adultery in it.

After a few days he finds out that Ann had a short career as an actress in British B-movies. Fascinated by anything his wife does he tracks down reruns all over London of films with his wife in it. I turns out into a sort of an obsession.

He suspects Ann had a relation with all men she played with in the films. Graham then suspects that Jack has had an affair with Ann as well.

When Graham reads Jack’s latest novels, he thinks that he had find proof that Ann’s and Jack’s relationship has gone on after Graham married Ann.

Graham meets Jack Lupton’s wife Sue in a restaurant and pretends to show sexual interests in her. He only does this to find confirmation of his suspicions concerning Jack and Ann.

One day he visits Graham and stabs him to death. Then he kills himself. When Ann comes in, she finds the death body of Jack, and the starving Graham. She calls an ambulance, but it’s already too late, Graham is dead.
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