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.

20 thoughts on “The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

  1. Amy says:

    I’ve read several different reviews for this book and they vary from really loving it to not likeing it at all. That alone makes me curious! The summary from Goodreads sounds interesting. But it sounds like nothing much happens. I suppose if I’m looking for a quiet book this one might work. I’m sorry you didn’t like it more but it sounds like it’s worth reading. I like your point about the beautiful writing. If I do read it, I’ll take my time with it!

    Thank you, Stacy

  2. lakesidemusing says:

    This was one of my favorite books read in 2011 and one that I really want to reread. The writing was absolutely beautiful and I remember reading so many passages more than once… can see how it might be very hard to get into on audio though.

  3. boardinginmyforties says:

    I’ve heard mixed reviews of this one. I don’t mind a sort of slow, contemplative read if I am in the right mood and I do have this one on my list for the future.

  4. Jenners says:

    I didn’t fall in love with this book and the ending just confused me. It was very melancholy though … and I think your thoughts on why it resonates now when we’re older are spot on.

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