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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Julian Barnes

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4,6053631,039 (3.85)1 / 585
Title:The Sense of an Ending
Authors:Julian Barnes
Info:Vintage (2012), Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011)

  1. 91
    On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Cariola, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    Cariola: Another brief but powerful novel that explores how our perceptions vary and memories change over time, as well as regrets over lost oppotunities. McEwan is, like Barnes, a master of words and character development. On Chesil Beach made the Booker short list in 2007--and should have won!… (more)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These brief, intricately plotted novels are reflective, character-driven stories that examine a pivotal event from different perspectives. In a complex narrative that shifts between past and present, individuals who grew up in 1960s England discover that memory can be unreliable.… (more)
  2. 93
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Laura400)
  3. 60
    The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (Queenofcups)
    Queenofcups: I found myself thinking of Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea as I read this book. There is some affinity in theme and story. Murdoch is expansive, where Barnes is elegant and economical. It won the Booker in 1978, and it's well worth another look.
  4. 20
    The Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe (freddlerabbit)
  5. 21
    The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (AlexBr)
    AlexBr: If you like unreliable narrators.
  6. 10
    A Partisan's Daughter by Louis de Bernières (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: Intelligently written account of an old guy reminiscing, with the added bonus in this case of an education in Balkan history along the way
  7. 00
    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (kara.shamy)
  8. 22
    The Sea by John Banville (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Men looking back on their youth, similar issues with memories. Both beautiful reads.
  9. 01
    The Newton Letter by John Banville (StevenTX)
  10. 01
    The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (yokai)

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English (328)  Dutch (11)  Spanish (6)  German (5)  French (3)  Norwegian (3)  Italian (3)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hebrew (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (363)
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
I hate to speak badly of any book, because I always imagine that its author has slaved away poring heart and soul into every tiny word. I've no doubt Barnes did just that. So I waited several weeks after finishing the book before commenting on it, in case I liked it better after stewing on a while.

I still don't like this book. The narrator was likable enough when the story begins while he is in high school. But shortly after that, and not far into the book, he becomes an increasingly shallow and self-centered person. So it's always hard for me to like a book if I don't like the main character. But that's not the worst of it. A constant refrain throughout the story is someone saying to the main character "You just don't get it." When the big reveal comes at the end of the book, apparently the main character "got it" -- but I, the reader, did not.

Perhaps I read the book too quickly. Perhaps I was distracted while reading. Perhaps I am just a dunce. Whatever the reason, "I just didn't get it." ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Jul 13, 2015 |
I'd been avoiding Barnes because
    A History of the World in 10½ Chapters
annoyed me for some reason. I think it had seemed too deliberate.

This book didn't feel that way. It felt like a book should--like it was about real people. I wasn't on Goodreads when I finished it so I didn't review it when it was fresh in my mind. I do want to say that it had a remarkable feel of the passage of time to it. So detailed and overly important when you're young yet less clear and surprisingly formless in the present, despite it being "now." Maybe the point is that hindsight creates the cohesion of the past (there is much discussion of the validity of history in the book) but I believe it is the loss of illusion that removes the binding that held the past together. That, plus the the present's lack of uniqueness when organized in the light of what has already happened. ( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
When you go about stuffing a full-length novel into one hundred pages, you must leave certain things to the reader's imagination. And you must set the words in place as to not leave the reader confused at the climax. Julian Barnes does precisely this with such panache. ( )
  bsiemens | Apr 28, 2015 |
Wow. Spectacular writing and what a story. I want to read it again. But wait, all those other books to read . . . ( )
  sdnomis | Apr 25, 2015 |
It says something, I think, that I finished this only a week or so ago and am already having trouble recalling its substance. Two things I do recall: 1. I was reminded of The Sea, The Sea, particularly since both books have a first person narrator who is clearly unreliable and not the "nicest" person on the planet. That worked for me coming from Murdoch's pen but not here, possibly because, as well as his being generally rather a prat, I found Barnes' protagonist frankly dull. 2. The one character I really enjoyed was the main character's ex-wife (I've forgotten his name already! A.. A... Adrian? Maybe.)

Not the most sparkling of reviews, for which I'm sorry, but the book inspires me to nothing more insightful. I do believe this is the first Booker winner I have read that I would judge to be a damp squib. ( )
  Vivl | Apr 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
By now, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes has gained itself a reputation for being the novel you must read twice.....

Nearly every paragraph in this book has multiple interpretations. Once all the questions are answered, the reader is left in the same state that Tony is in the book’s final pages—floored at life’s essential mysteries, and frustrated that they cannot be relived. Fortunately for us, we can just read the book again.
added by Nickelini | editForbes, Geoff Mak (Mar 29, 2012)
Barnes' work is one in which, event-wise, not a whole lot happens. Unless we’re talking about the events of the brain and the tricks of time and memory. If that's the case, then Barnes has impressively condensed an undertaking of biblical proportions into a mere 163 pages.
added by WeeklyAlibi | editWeekly Alibi, Sam Adams (Nov 10, 2011)
Deservedly longlisted for the Man Booker prize, this is a very fine book, skilfully plotted, boldly conceived, full of bleak insight into the questions of ageing and memory, and producing a very real kick – or peripeteia – at its end. As Kermode wrote: "At some very low level we all share certain fictions about time, and they testify to the continuity of what is called human nature…" Barnes has achieved, in this shortish account of a not very attractive man, something of universal importance.
As ever, Barnes excels at colouring everyday reality with his narrator's unique subjectivity, without sacrificing any of its vivid precision: only he could invest a discussion about hand-cut chips in a gastropub with so much wry poignancy.
A man's closest-held beliefs about a friend, former lover and himself are undone in a subtly devastating novella from Barnes. It's an intense exploration of how we write our own histories and how our actions in moments of anger can have consequences that stretch across decades. The novel's narrator, Anthony, is in late middle age, and recalling friendships from adolescence and early adulthood. What at first seems like a polite meditation on childhood and memory leaves the reader asking difficult questions about how often we strive to paint ourselves in the best possible light.
added by kthomp25 | editKirkus Reviews. (Nov. 1, 2011)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barnes, Julianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gombau i Arnau, AlexandreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hörmark, MatsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I remember, in no particular order:
   -a shiny inner wrist;
   -steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;
   -gouts of sperm circling a plughole, before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house;
   -a river rushing nonsensically upstream, its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torchbeams;
   -another river, broad and grey, the direction of its flow disguised by a stiff wind exciting the surface;
   -bathwater long gone cold behind a locked door.
"We could start perhaps with the seemingly simple question. What is History? Any thoughts, Webster?
'History is the lies of the victors,' I replied a little too quickly.'
Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated...' (p. 25, large print ed.)
We muddle along, we let life happen to us, we gradually build up a store of memories. There is the question of accumulation, but not in the sense that Adrian meant, just the simple adding up and adding on of life. And as the poet pointed out, there is a difference between addition and increase.
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Book description
By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse.

This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre. .
Haiku summary
Middle-age memories
of times past, both good and bad.
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"Tony Webster, a middle-aged man, ... contends with a past he never thought much about--until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance: one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present"--Flap p. 1 of cover.

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