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The Sense of an Ending [Hardcover]

Julian Barnes
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (539 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 Aug 2011

Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011

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.

The Sense of an Ending is the story of one man coming to terms with the mutable past. Laced with trademark precision, dexterity and insight, it is the work of one of the world's most distinguished writers.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; First Edition First Impression edition (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: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (539 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,000 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

Review

"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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
492 of 514 people found the following review helpful
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
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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260 of 279 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cerebration 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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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't completely get it 30 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover
This is one of those self-consciously over-wrought, I'm-trying-very-hard-to-bag-The-Prize, literary efforts which I usually avoid like the plague. It reeked of something like Donna Tartt's The Secret History to begin with, which almost put me off completely. However, it has its plus points; the character of Tony is easy to slip into, because of his dullness, even if those around him are infuriatingly enigmatic. I did 'get it' regarding the time/water parallel, and I certainly got it regarding the fragments of history we choose to suppress, or keep, or throw away according to whether we feel guilt, or remorse, or nostalgia. How many of us would actually recall a letter, word for word, written 40 years ago? No, we would remember a sentiment behind it and a few choice phrases. The rest we would have to re-write in our memory as time went on. I have certainly 'reconstructed' a few moments in my own history, to suit my conscience, and this novella did highlight the nature of memory and time very effectively. Although I wish he had not used the words 'history' and 'time' and especially 'memory' in every other sentence - I was suffering from memory lapses myself in the end.
Now to the bits I don't get. The book seemed to hinge not on a theme, or a pivotal moment, or a character, but simply the fact that Tony didn't know something; and that the other characters wouldn't tell him. This was hardly Tony's fault; he was in America at the time. If no-one told him why, how was he supposed to know? And yet we are supposed to feel some sort of sympathy for those who chose not to tell him - just to keep saying, 'you don't get it, do you?' Tony might leave a lot to be desired, but it wasn't his fault he didn't get it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sense of an Ending
I enjoyed 'The Sense of an Ending' but could not quite help felling like there was something I was missing. Maybe a second read is in order.....
Published 4 days ago by Poetic Justice
2.0 out of 5 stars Came to this book with high expectations and was slightly disappointed
It took me a while to read this story; though I usually buy every book on the Booker Shortlist, I was never especially attracted to this novel. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Mme Suzanne Lageard
2.0 out of 5 stars The Sense of an Ending
Once again I'd read the reviews and thought it would be an enjoyable read. Unfortunately it didn't appeal to me and I found it rather dark.
Published 17 days ago by S. J. Holmes
3.0 out of 5 stars Like a snack not a meal
I know it won the Booker in 2011, but I struggle to understand why. It is really a novella rather than a full novel and as such it has to be slick in every aspect. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Paperback Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect!
It was just what I needed. Site was efficient and simple to acquire the product. It arrived safely and promptly, with regular emails detailing it's whereabouts.
Published 24 days ago by Me
5.0 out of 5 stars LOOK OUT WORLD, THIS ONE'S SPECIAL!!!
It goes without saying that a book has got to be special to win a prize like the Man Booker. THE SENSE OF AN ENDING is more than special. It is extraordinary. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Greggorio!
4.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet
The plot is engaging and makes you wonder about your own relation to memories. I like the way it switched between modern and old gergo references to episodes, which,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by h2Omoon
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, beautiful writing
As always, Julian Barnes never disappoints. This is a short book about insignificant events a long time ago, which reverberate shockingly in the protagonist's old age. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Moose Papoose
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read
I don't think I have read a book that has gripped me so well in a long time. The story invokes thoughts and feelings about how our actions and behaviour has the propensity to cause... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gilbobaggins
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sense of an Ending
A sweet little book, heartfelt and genuine, with a steady pace and little fat.

With just a few main characters, we get to know them with surprisingly little by way of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Brookes
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