Friday, June 01, 2012

'The Sense of an Ending' by Julian Barnes

1 June 2012

Julian Barnes’ book ‘The Sense of an Ending’ won the 2011 Man Booker prize despite being more of a novella than a novel – it’s only 160 pages long. I read it as an audio book (narrated by Richard Morant) and would highly recommend it. It’s a sad book, dealing with death and regret but I found it enjoyable and intriguing. It opens with a school history lesson and keeps returning to how history is recorded, false or suppressed memories, the value of documentary evidence etc. The first person narrator, Tony Webster, is looking back over his life in old age and realising that some things were not what he had always remembered or thought they were. As he begins to piece the evidence together the book feels almost like a detective story. Although it is very brief ‘The Sense of an Ending’ does not feel like a short story. Rather it seems like the selected highlights of a much longer novel. Tony’s life is a detailed and well-drawn story from which he is choosing to tell us only those parts that are essential to one particular part of it. This is a tale of remorse which surprises with its twists and revelations.



At 3:00 am, Anonymous Canada said...

Tony Webster is an ordinary retired man who looks back on his life, in particular to a time when he was at school and made friends with Adrian Finn who is intellectually stimulating and who sadly will die early in his life. Tony dwells upon memory and how it impacts upon one's life, memory forms us and we form it, in fact it is ever changing and depending upon when we dwell upon a certain instance in our lives the memory can alter.

The story itself is basic, Tony looking back upon his youth, we get snippets of his life and the people who have had an impact upon him and what we see is an ordinary life in effect. However, the genius of Barnes is that this novel is not ordinary, it is full of impact, consequence and originality. Its tone is precise and perfect. The conciseness of the writing is consummate. After reading this compact yet beautifully crafted precise novel you will appreciate the lucidity of Barnes' writing. An immensely powerful novel.


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