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Customer Review

520 of 548 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of delicate observation and insight - short but almost perfectly formed, 9 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: The Sense of an Ending (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. Books that involve the narrator examining their own actions can get too easily bogged down, but by keeping it brief, this never happens with Barnes. There's insight into the human condition and gentle philosophy without it becoming too introspective. It's very readable literary fiction.

Older readers in particular will relate to Tony's struggle with the modernities of the current day.

It's a terrific little book and is highly recommended.
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Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Oct 2011 23:56:29 BDT
Tony says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Dec 2011 21:18:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Dec 2011 21:18:16 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jan 2012 21:43:26 GMT
It's only pathetic young farts that can make such an ignorant statement, I'm afraid.

Posted on 26 Jan 2012 21:22:32 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 24 Apr 2012 21:32:19 BDT]

Posted on 8 Mar 2012 08:26:47 GMT
I agree with everything Ripple has said and would add that it is rare to read a book that is so beautifully written that the moment I had finished it, I turned to the beginning and started again. The character development was compelling, from the adolescent angst of the students in the beginning to the stultified late middle age of Tony as he tries to understand the impact of his behaviour as a young man. Do book-mark the formulae - these were intriguing and I kept turning back to that page to try and work them out. As well as the themes raised by ripple above, there is also an undercurrent running through the book of the effects on many people's lives resulting from a suicide and, on a philosophical note, the is/ought question that Adrian posed when he took his own life for cognitive/rational reasons, without reference to any moral imperative or the feelings of others.

Posted on 17 Mar 2012 11:58:19 GMT
acrylic says:
I agree with most of Ripple's comments. A really good book - but is anyone wondering, like me, why Tony didn't know about the 'brother' at the beginning of the story ? Or Have I missed something totally obvious ?

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Mar 2012 10:32:07 BDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 18 Apr 2012 18:30:31 BDT
S Corr says:
I would like to have discovered what Veronica had done since Uni. This felt a little unfinished, otherwise the perfect story.

Posted on 18 Apr 2012 18:31:56 BDT
S Corr says:
I would like to have discovered what Veronica had done since Uni. This felt a little unfinished, otherwise the perfect story.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 May 2012 23:16:46 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 31 May 2012 23:17:34 BDT]
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