The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Product DetailsSense of an Ending. Finished audio 3-6-13, rating 3.5/5, published 2011

Unabridged audio 4 hours 38 minutes. Read by Richard Morant.

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school.  Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.

Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

-from Goodreads

It took me a while to get caught up in the story but once I did I really was invested in the whys and the whats of what happened to Adrian and Tony and their friendship.  Tony represents what happens to so many people.  Life becomes a series of compromises and comfortable choices rather than the fiery ideas of our youth.  Tony had a good life, a quiet  life and one that he recognizes by the end as a bit empty.  His memories and the truth were sometimes very different things and this was the most poetic part of the novel, reconciling what happens to what we remember.  I appreciate this sentiment more now in my 40’s than I would have even 10 years ago.

This won the 2011 Booker Prize and I was expecting a solid and quiet book based on some of the reviews I’d read.  It was solid and in many ways it was quiet.  I thought it was nice, but nothing earth shattering and I did think the end was somewhat of a disappointment.  There was the vague sense of what but not much of the why.  Tony wasn’t all that sympathetic of a character, but Veronica (an ex-girlfriend) was frustrating and by the end I was happy to be done with the both of them.

I thought the narrator did a great job and totally captured Tony, but I wish I’d read this one and was able to appreciate the language a bit more.  The writing was beautiful and I might have liked it more if I had been able to take my time with it.  Or maybe not, who knows.

I checked this one out of the library.