the sense of an ending

Another recent audiobook I listened to while unpacking the new apartment was The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, read by the Richard Morant. From Goodreads:

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they navigated the girl drought of gawky adolescence together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they swore to stay friends forever. Until Adrian’s life took a turn into tragedy, and all of them, especially Tony, moved on and did their best to forget.

Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a marriage, a calm divorce. He gets along nicely, he thinks, with his one child, a daughter, and even with his ex-wife. 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 unexpected bequest conveyed by that letter leads Tony on a dogged search through a past suddenly turned murky. And how do you carry on, contentedly, when events conspire to upset all your vaunted truths?

I had never read any Julian Barnes before, and saw a lot of high marks on this one from people I follow on Goodreads, so I thought I’d give it a try. Glad I did! I think it was the perfect length for its subject matter—only about a 5 hour recording. The writing is a bit dry, but intelligent and there’s enough irony to keep it interesting (especially on audio, I think—narrator Richard Morant played a spectacular wry old man recalling his horny teenage days). I may have given it up if I was reading on paper.

The Sense of an Ending is all about memory, and it’s shifting and changing as we age. Repressed, hazy, vague memories are rampant throughout the book. Tony is a pretentious jerk, as a teen and still later as an old man. There were times when I was confused as to whom Tony was talking to or about… of course, perhaps Tony was confused as well—an unreliable protagonist. Readers have to pay attention and “read between the lines,” so to speak. It’s pretty tough to talk about this one without giving away spoilers… there’s a pretty intense revelation at the end that is worthy of thought and discussion, similar in feel to Atonement, but not nearly as long, and lots more snark, naughtiness, and sexytimes! Not one of my new all-time favorites, but The Sense of an Ending was good enough to make it worth it, especially the twist ending.

Listened to audiobook from August 13 to 15, 2013.

8 thoughts on “the sense of an ending

    • It’s dense writing and the action is almost entirely internal or “off-screen,” so I trudged through it. Also didn’t help that I read it in the think of moving apartments. :-/ But the payoff is totally worth in the end. Enjoy! Thanks for checking out my blog 🙂

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