This is Julian Barnes’s first book and it’s in three parts.
The first and third sections are set in Metroland – a strip of suburbia in outer London – in 1963 and 1977 respectively. The middle section is set in Paris in 1968.
The first section chronicles the development of a friendship between Christopher and Toni, two boys at an all-boys school who as adolescents make fun of the adult world. They love and art and French writers and show of their knowledge of these subjects whenever they can. They determine not to live the traditional life of Metroland and buy a house, get married, and have children.
In 1968, at the age of 21 Christopher goes to Paris to continue his studies, has his first love affair, misses all the major events of that year of uprisings, and meets his future wife Marion.
Back in Metroland in 1977, we find Christopher married to Marion with a young daughter Amy. Toni continues to try and live the ideals of his younger days and chides Christopher for giving in and becoming like the people they used to make fun of in their younger days.