04 October 2012

Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes book cover
Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2011, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is a slim book at only 163 pages and I had high hopes as I turned to the first page.

Essentially this is a book about ageing and reflecting back on one's life with the hindsight and wisdom of age. Tony is the narrator of The Sense of an Ending, and in the 1960s he has a relatively idealised vision of his future while attending school with his intellectual and cocky school friends who enjoy exchanging witty banter. After an unsuccessful relationship with girlfriend Veronica, Tony and his close friends eventually lose touch as they disband to different universities etc.  

Forty years later, after becoming a father and going through a divorce, Tony receives news that puts him in touch with Veronica again. The news and subsequent revelations force him to reflect on his life and how it has turned out and how it might have been.  

Tony also begins to face the fact that he is closer to death now and making preparations himself to leave the world soon and considers the legacy he wishes to leave.

Reading The Sense of an Ending for me was like listening in on the private thoughts of a stranger and while interesting, I didn't find them that revolutionary or groundbreaking. I couldn't help but wonder if I would have felt different if I were reading this as a baby boomer or if I'd have been more touched by his reflections if I'd been reading this at a later stage in my own life? Unfortunately I don't think so.

Clearly the literati and booklovers the world over fell in love with The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, but it just wasn't the book for me. If it swept you away, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

Would you like to comment?

  1. It didn't 'sweep me away' but I did enjoy it a lot - I think because it was one of those incrediby satisfying 'read it in one sitting' books.

  2. Hi Kate, I know what you mean about enjoying a book that you can read in one day. There's a lot to be said about brevity.

  3. The book definitely captures one's attention and is easily read. To some degree, all of what bothers Tony is most assuredly a part of anyone's life. The mind really is a pretty leaky vessel and is quite capable of producing a history of questionable validity.

  4. Thanks, I agree with your 'leaky vessel' analogy. Indeed!


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!