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

by Julian Barnes, Richard Morant (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,886382943 (3.84)1 / 608
Member:janna_voss
Title:The Sense of an Ending
Authors:Julian Barnes
Other authors:Richard Morant (Narrator)
Info:AudioGO (2012), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:**
Tags:None

Work details

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011)

Recently added byjohnsonand, CydMelcher, private library, 4everfanatical, marianoel, ladilettante
  1. 92
    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. 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.
  3. 93
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Laura400)
  4. 20
    The Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe (freddlerabbit)
  5. 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
  6. 21
    The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (AlexBr)
    AlexBr: If you like unreliable narrators.
  7. 00
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  8. 22
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    bookmomo: Men looking back on their youth, similar issues with memories. Both beautiful reads.
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English (343)  Dutch (11)  Spanish (7)  German (5)  French (4)  Norwegian (3)  Italian (3)  Danish (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (381)
Showing 1-5 of 343 (next | show all)
This book started off strong, I loved the camaraderie between Tony Webster and his friends at school and I was shocked when Adrian killed himself. I was expecting the second half to unearth some sort of great mystery about the circumstances surrounding that event - what I actually got was really disappointing. Nothing gets explained in straight-forward terms, it was a philosophical muddle about pretty mundane events. When it was revealed that Adrian killed himself because he fathered a child with his girlfriends (Tony's ex-girlfriend) mother, I was left scratching my head. That was probably the most boring reveal I have ever read.

Thank goodness this book was only 150 pages - it felt like 500 pages because of how slow paced it was. I could not have endured the torture of taking more time to read it if it was longer. ( )
  4everfanatical | Feb 5, 2016 |
Beautifully written but not really my thing, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it wasn't a good fit for me at the moment.

Barnes explores the idea of memory - how reliable is it? - by the main character Tony Webster examining his memories & feelings about his past (specifically a couple of people from his school & college days) when he receives an unexpected legacy. I found the idea of wanting or needing corroboration for one's memories as one gets older rang true (I increasingly want to double-check memories of childhood with my brother). However, the people in this novel never really came alive for me -- it was very cold & analytical and that set me at a distance from what was happening. ( )
  leslie.98 | Feb 2, 2016 |
This won the Man Booker prize 2011 and I think I can see why.

It's an interwoven story told from the viewpoint of Anthony Webster. At school he has 2 'best friends' until Adrian Finn arrives and is accepted into their clique. Or is he? They have various affectations, such as wearing their watches face in, which he never takes part in, but is still accepted as one of them without ever really becoming so. They finish school, go off to University vowing to stay in touch and, of course, go their separate ways. We follow Anthony as he studies, dates Veronica, splits up from her, marries Margaret, has a child, divorces.... All these events are just sketched out as Anthony reminisces and yet you feel you understand.

I don't want to go into too much detail, but a couple of 'events' are the trigger for all this. The second, the death of Veronica's Mother, leads to a bequest and Anthony finds himself re-assessing his memories and discovering things about himself, and the people in his life, that had somehow passed him by at the time.

It's a book about the unreliability of memory and about self-discovery. It is beautifully written and whilst it is a slight volume and never really goes into any detail, you still feel as if you have read something in depth. I read it in a couple of afternoons and really enjoyed it. Especially after struggling through 'A Visit from the Goon Squad', 'Swamplandia' and laughing my way through 'Fifty Shades of Grey'! It was nice to read something thoughful but not too heavy handed. ( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
This is a very engaging story and a definite page-turner. It is a book that contains great emotion and sucks you in until the last page. The surprise ending and the excellent writing make this a very memorable read. I highly recommend it. ( )
  eadieburke | Jan 19, 2016 |
Anthony is a man in his 60s. He appears bland, harmless, and seems to have lived an average life (marriage, child, divorce, work, etc). One day he receives a notice from the mother of his former girlfriend. This letter causes him to reflect on events in his past including past friendships and past relationships. The Sense of an Ending is a book about memory, aging, personal responsibility, and how seemingly small events can have big repercussions. The book opens with Anthony’s memories about his childhood friends and relationship with his first girlfriend, Veronica. Fast-forward to the day in which a 60 year-old Anthony is given information by the solicitor of his former girlfriend’s mother. This event sets of a chain of memories that go back to the earlier events in Antony’s life. As future events unfold, memories of the past come into sharper focus until the truth of what happened earlier in his life is ultimately revealed.

I enjoyed this book and was engaged enough to finish it in two sittings. It was short, but with great depth. This is a book that makes you think, and in my case after reading the ending, I enjoyed going back over some of the earlier sections to make sense of things. The writing style was simple and compact and pulled me in right away. The true picture develops slowly but in a way that seems full of suspense and intrigue. The author makes you think about how memories change and become distorted through the aging process and raises questions of how actions we take can impact the lives of others.

Quotes:
“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”

“It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others.”

“I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where the pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory.”
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 343 (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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People/Characters
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Important events
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Epigraph
Dedication
for Pat
First words
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.
Quotations
"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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.
What is the meaning?
(sushitori)

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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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