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The Sense of an Ending Hardcover – 4 Aug 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (4 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224094157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224094153
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (641 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julian Barnes is the author of ten novels, including Metroland, Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters and Arthur & George; two books of short stories, Cross Channel and The Lemon Table; and also three collections of journalism, Letters from London, Something to Declare, and The Pedant in the Kitchen.

His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In France he is the only writer to have won both the Prix Médicis (for Flaubert's Parrot) and the Prix Femina (for Talking it Over). In 1993 he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the FVS Foundation of Hamburg. He lives in London.

Product Description


"Packs quite an emotional punch... Julian Barnes unravels the mystery with masterly skill. He springs surprise after surprise without stooping to sensationalism in a crisp, engaging tale" (Max Davidson Daily Mail)

"Written in beautifully cadenced prose, it is a mature writer's reflections on love and marriage... on family and friendship, on work and death" (Time Out)

"There is no catastrophe, simply a dawning awareness of the past, its consequences and its meaning for the present. It is a familiar narrative structure, but in the hands of the master-wordsmith that Barnes has become, the effect is cumulatively overwhelming... A compelling, disturbing and profoundly moving story of human fallibility" (Daniel Johnson Standpoint)

"It is a perfect novel of positively European economy and power (shades of Schnitzler, shades of Camus)... It is beyond the wit and depth of any current British writer" (Giles Coran Times)

"Its technical expertise is little short of remarkable...a writer with an all-too rare attribute, a perfect literary ear. Take a page at random and read it aloud, and enjoy its finely tuned exactitude" (Keith Miller Telegraph)

Book Description

A brilliant short novel from a writer at the very height of his powers. Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

508 of 533 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover
"The Sense of an Ending" is almost more of a novella - it's a slim volume but exquisitely written, as you might expect from Julian Barnes. It starts off describing the relationships between four friends at school, narrated by one of the friends, Tony Webster, but quickly it becomes clear that this is written many years later. Barnes has long been a terrific observer of the English middle classes and his style invariably contains satire and dry humour. And this being Barnes, this school clique is intellectual in interest, as the narrator recalls English and History teachers and student philosophising.

Tony is a middle class everyman. He's unexceptional and his subsequent life has been so conventional as to border on the dull, unlike the catalyst for the story Adrian Finn who is intellectually gifted and a natural philosopher of the human condition. However the friendship falls apart after the friends leave to go to university and Adrian enters into a relationship with Tony's ex-girlfriend. And that would have been that, except that many years later a mysterious letter opens up the past causing Tony to reconsider the actions of his youth.

It's a book about history and how we recall events. Tony has his memories but without evidence or corroboration, how sure can he be? Do the lessons learnt in the History classroom apply to the individual? What starts off in the manner of Alan Bennett's "History Boys" soon turns into a darker mystery as Tony is forced to face up to the actions of his younger self.

It's a joy to read. Thought provoking, beautifully observed with just enough mystery to keep you turning the pages to find out what happened.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Aug. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There can be no doubt that Julian Barnes is a fine writer--Arthur and George, Pulse etc. etc. Here with this 2011 Man Booker Prize winner he proves it once again. This is a fairly short novel, but long on pure enjoyment.
It begins with Tony and his close circle of friends at school joined by a new boy Adrian who shines academically, but is a little removed from the rest and a bit of a mystery. Enter Veronica, during their student days, Tony's first serious girlfriend. He has genuine feelings for her although he senses a holding back on her part and not just sexual.However like any healthy male Tony diligently tries to persuade her to "go all the way". How quaint that phrase now sounds. You see although it is the early swinging 60's it did not swing for everyone and moral values and attitudes were for the most part still stuck back in the austere 50's. An uncomfortable weekend with her family causes him to re-asses their relationship. They split and to Tony's hurt and anger Adrian moves in on her. To reveal more detail would be unfair, suffice to say that Tony's rather uneventful life moves on loosing touch with his school and university mates, until in his contented if rather lonely 60's out of nowhere comes a reason to contact Veronica once more. A strained correspondence and even more strained meetings take place when she tells him:
"You just don't get it, you never did" What does he just not get? This fills the second part of the book and I had to resist the strong temptation to turn to the last few pages for the solution. Of course I didn't, but the suspense kept me frantically reading the last 60 or so pages non stop until it all fell into place.
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267 of 290 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. James on 24 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

This first person narrative is a study in obsessive guilt. Tony Webster looks back to his first encounter with Adrian Finn, the new boy at school. Adrian is obviously a cut above the rest of the lads; he is serious, logical and inquisitive, destined for great things at Cambridge University. Years later Tony hears of his suicide, a carefully arranged affair, with appropriate notes to family, friends and authorities. He had once told Tony that Camus maintained that suicide was the only true philosophical question. The subject arose when a fellow student, Robson, hanged himself after getting his girlfriend pregnant. What possible connection could there be between the fatal decision of the mediocre student Robson, whose last words read simply `Sorry, Mum' and the signing off of the genius Adrian?

The clue - to that part of the novel at least - lies in the relationship both Tony and Adrian have with a rather classy and prickly girl known as Veronica (later Mary) Ford, whose parents Tony visits for a disastrous week-end in Chislehurst, where he is treated rudely both by Veronica's father and her brother Jack, but kindly by Mrs Ford, Veronica's mother. Only in his later years, which absorb most of the second part of this slim novel, does Tony - and possibly the reader - begin to `get it' as Veronica continually puts it about her family situation. By then we have learned of an insulting letter Tony had written to the unhappy pair, Veronica and Adrian, which may or may not have been the trigger that caused his demise. The reader will need to read the novel a second time to pick up on the clues Barnes plants regarding the abortive love affair with the hostile Veronica.
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