Teresa’s review of The Sense of an Ending > Likes and Comments

106 likes · Like
Comments (showing 1-50 of 78) (78 new)    post a comment »

message 1: by K.D. (last edited Feb 07, 2012 04:25PM) (new)

K.D. Absolutely Oh yes, T. Now that you reminded me. The book has similarities with Ford Madox Ford's "The Good Soldier." Why I did not think of that?

I did not see the ending. I thought it was farfetched but I liked it. That ending surprised me beautifully.


message 2: by Teresa (new)

Teresa K.D. wrote: "Oh yes, T. Now that you reminded me. The book has similarities with Ford Madox Ford's "The Good Soldier." Why I did not think of that?"

The difference being, I think, that you suspect the narrator of this book to be unreliable in the beginning, but later on it's not a question of his reliability or unreliability, whereas in TGS you realize more and more as the book goes on how unreliable the narrator is.


message 3: by Cynthia (last edited Feb 07, 2012 03:45PM) (new)

Cynthia Hey how did I miss your review Teresa??? I guess I'm still not getting all my freinds' updates.

Great review. I hadn't thought of a tie in with 'good soldier'. "Sense' has a similar pacing.

The ending took me by surprise though strangely enough


SPOILER















I knew it had something to do with mom.


message 4: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "Hey how did I miss your review Teresa??? I guess I'm still not getting all my freinds' updates.

Great review. I hadn't thought of a tie in with 'good soldier'. "Sense' has a similar pacing.

..."


Thanks, Cynthia. You are exactly right about the pacing -- probably another reason I thought of it as I started reading. I had a similar experience with the ending, which I guess isn't too surprising considering [SPOILER FOLLOWS]
S
P
O
I
L
E
R
she's the one who has the diary. I figured there had to be some kind of sexual relationship between her and Adrian -- you get clues about her character over that one weekend with Tony -- and even though I believed that, I oddly didn't think of her as 'the mother' before I read it.


message 5: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Spoiler again.






I thought mom did the diary thing because she wanted the couple to get back together.....which I suppose she did, just not in the conventional way.


message 6: by Sue (new)

Sue I'm finally going to have a chance to read the second half of the book tomorrow (it's on my friend's ipod. So I'm trying to type this and not look up. I found the beginning interesting but so self-involved I had some trouble with it. I'm so curious about the rest of it, the diary, etc,.

Nice review Teresa.


message 7: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "Spoiler again.






I thought mom did the diary thing because she wanted the couple to get back together.....which I suppose she did, just not in the conventional way."


I didn't even think of that! One of those things we'll never know because Tony will never know.


message 8: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Sue wrote: "I found the beginning interesting but so self-involved I had some trouble with it. I'm so curious about the rest of it, the diary, etc,.

Nice review Teresa. "


It is self-involved, Sue! So much so that I think it can feel claustrophobic, but as you can tell, I loved it.

Thank you.


message 9: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely I agree with T, Sue. It is all about him and his feelings. What he thinks he remembers. Without spoiling anything, it is quite different from what I've read before. As a narrator, he really is one for the books.


message 10: by Teresa (new)

Teresa K.D. wrote: "As a narrator, he really is one for the books. "

Literally! ;)


message 11: by Sue (new)

Sue OK, I've finished the book. I liked it alright but didn't love it. I also am not as sure of the ending as you seem to be since....I don't trust Antony's memory at all. Who is the baby's father?

Have to admit, at one point I even wondered if the Adrian in the shop could be Adrian the suicide who had somehow botched his suicide and become brain damaged. But a friend is pretty sure his age was indicated in the novel as being the right age for "the child".

So many possible ways to interpret the different parts of this novel especially as Antony begins to recall new details of his past in Book 2.

I have far more questions than answers for this book.


message 12: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· I have far more questions than answers for this book.

I think that is a main factor of its strength. As Teresa says, it gets under your skin, it doesn't just go away when you've finished. It's fascinating that what is, basically, a book of ideas can have such an effect.


message 13: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely I agree Karen. The images in the book, the strange beauty of the narration and the characters tend to linger in my memory. I can recall almost everything that happened in this book this even after two months.

Sue: I thought it was Nick's child? I'd like to think that way but I don't know how and when it happened. Strange but it seemed not to be important harhar. I rated this with 4 stars (I really liked this).


message 14: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Sue wrote: "OK, I've finished the book. I liked it alright but didn't love it. I also am not as sure of the ending as you seem to be since....I don't trust Antony's memory at all. Who is the baby's father?"

SPOILER

If, as the 'minder' says, Veronica's mother, Sarah, is the mother of the child (who is stated that he looks around 40, which is Anthony's interpretation, I think, so we could think, does he really look that age?), I suppose we could think Veronica's father could be the father of the child, but then why would Sarah have Adrian's diary? Are you thinking that perhaps Tony is not admitting to having sex with Sarah that weekend? It's possible; I too wondered about that. Yes, the questions do go on.


message 15: by Teresa (new)

Teresa K.D. wrote: "Strange but it seemed not to be important..."

I agree, K.D. In such a "book of ideas," as Karen calls it, it doesn't seem important.


message 16: by Sue (new)

Sue Since the primary idea of the novel appears to me to be memory and its frailties, I have a difficult time letting go of the details. They are the essence of memory, whether they are accurate or not. Or do you think Barnes is saying...let go of it, don't try to think you know since you can't.

That becomes scary as then there is not Truth, only individual truths.


message 17: by Teresa (last edited Feb 10, 2012 07:52PM) (new)

Teresa Sue wrote: "Or do you think Barnes is saying...let go of it, don't try to think you know since you can't."

I think he may be, Sue. It goes along with Veronica's refrain of (I'm paraphrasing here) "you don't get it and you never will."

That becomes scary as then there is not Truth, only individual truths.

One of my favorite themes in literature, which is one of the reasons I like Kazuo Ishiguro so much too.


message 18: by Sue (new)

Sue My issue with that though is why would she show him thw other Adrian. Why bother unless she wanted him to remember something.


message 19: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· For me, one of the strongest traces of narrative in the whole book was that story that Margaret told of her friend who read the au pair's diary which revealed the au pair's opinion of her. And Tony reacts by asking 'What happened then?', to which Margaret says that's not the point of the story. The easy, the comfortable option would be to let it go, not to enquire into it at all, because knowledge could be painful. But Tony is like us, the reader, the main thrust of a narrative is 'and then and then and then', what happened then? It's what human beings do, they want to find out. Even if what they find out is not to their liking, is hard to come by, they battle on to find out. A sense of completion is more important than the loss along the way.


message 20: by ·Karen· (last edited Feb 11, 2012 01:17AM) (new)

·Karen· Sue wrote: "My issue with that though is why would she show him thw other Adrian. Why bother unless she wanted him to remember something."

That would be my one quibble too. That holding back of information by Veronica is absolutely necessary to rack up the tension, but psychologically, it's pretty shaky.

Unless of course we're meant to think that Veronica finds this process equally painful, shaming, and is massively reluctant to open up.


message 21: by Sue (new)

Sue I suppose all of this (including our discussion) may well be part of Barnes' intent in writing the novel, to get us all thinking and talking about the nature of memory and aging and what they mean to us individually and as humans. In that sense, I think I'd need to add a star on to my assessment of the book. He seems to have been very successful.


message 22: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia This will make me sound petty but what the heck: I think Veronica feels she's been wronged by Adrian, Tony and especially her mother. In her attempt to find some kind of peace she wants the only living person to understand and maybe pity her for how her life turned out. And to see how brave she is to care for the 'child'. It's one thing to be betrayed by lovers but by your own mother??? That's soul killing. I know moms get blamed for all kinds of stuff but I can't imagine a mother doing such a thing to their child.


message 23: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Oh and mom leaving Tony her diary was some kind of repentence for what she'd done?


message 24: by Teresa (last edited Feb 11, 2012 09:10AM) (new)

Teresa Karen wrote: "That holding back of information by Veronica is absolutely necessary to rack up the tension, but psychologically, it's pretty shaky.

Unless of course we're meant to think that Veronica finds this process equally painful, shaming, and is massively reluctant to open up.


I think that could be it, Karen.

Veronica is a quirky kind of person (though we see her from Tony's eyes, we still have to believe some of what he says/sees or there'd be no story) and throughout their relationship (taking into the time period as well where it still feels like the 50's though it's the 60's) they don't really communicate, so I took it to be that she can't tell Tony things outright though she wants him (someone?) to know.


message 25: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "This will make me sound petty but what the heck: I think Veronica feels she's been wronged by Adrian, Tony and especially her mother. In her attempt to find some kind of peace she wants the only ..."

Not petty at all, Cynthia. I think you got something there. The ironic thing is that Tony imagined Veronica's 'damage' coming from her father, in some way, but the most damage had to have come from her mother.


message 26: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "Oh and mom leaving Tony her diary was some kind of repentence for what she'd done?"

In her note to Tony she says something about Adrian would've wanted him to have it, because he thought of Tony as a good friend, something like that, right? (The book's gone back to the library.) Also sounds kind of shaky, but all we know here is what Tony knows. I feel like she was flirting with Tony that weekend he was with the family and perhaps would've had a relationship with him if the chance had been there, so perhaps she wanted Tony to think of her again, even if was after she was gone.


message 27: by Cynthia (last edited Feb 11, 2012 09:31AM) (new)

Cynthia I'm so glad i'm hearing from everyone since you've all read this more recently than I did. Teresa good point about the note re Adrian. I'd forgotten that.

And I think you're absolutely right about mom flirting with Tony, testing to see if they could 'have it off'. Do you think that might be why Veronica sleeps with Tony after they broke up? Some sort of feeling that at least I beat my mom (or tied with her since she might or might not have been in her mom's confidence) in sleeping with him. Who knows maybe mom implied to V that Tony had been attracted to her. What was that stuff about the eggs breaking? lol


message 28: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia BTW if anyone is interested the yahoo booker list is scheduled to read this next December:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BookerP...


message 29: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "And I think you're absolutely right about mom flirting with Tony, testing to see if they could 'have it off'. Do you think that might be why Veronica sleeps with Tony after they broke up? Some sort of feeling that at least I beat my mom (or tied with her since she might or might not have been in her mom's confidence) in sleeping with him. Who knows maybe mom implied to V that Tony had been attracted to her. What was that stuff about the eggs breaking? lol "

Could be, or maybe she did want to get back together with him. That's an event that seems to be skimmed over by Tony. After relating how he felt after they had sex, he completely eliminates how he told her he didn't want to get back together with her and starts his recollection of that conversation with her reaction.

The eggs breaking felt like part of a 'flirtation dance' when I was reading it, but now that you bring it up, it seems like a symbol of her 'fertility!' A foreshadowing of the 'broken' child she will end up giving birth to.


message 30: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia "The eggs breaking felt like part of a 'flirtation dance' when I was reading it, but now that you bring it up, it seems like a symbol of her 'fertility!' A foreshadowing of the 'broken' child she will end up giving birth to."

Excellent Teresa. It seemed important....I just couldn't think how.

You're probably right about V and T sleeping together after they broke up might be about V wanting to get back together. Much more down to earth theory than mine. I have a sense (had to throw in that homage) that I'm thinking of mom as more evil than she really was.


message 31: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "I have a sense (had to throw in that homage) that I'm thinking of mom as more evil than she really was. "

Maybe 'evil' seems like too harsh of a word, but I don't think you're too far off. I filled in the blanks as thinking something has to be 'wrong' with her at least: flirting with Tony, sleeping with Adrian ... maybe the reason her husband drank himself to death not too long after as well.


message 32: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Teresa writes:

".....maybe the reason her husband drank himself to death not too long after as well.”

Yet another plot point I’d forgotten. Thanks for that and I agree with you.
It also reminds of how extremely jocular dad and brother were with Tony when they were sitting with him and V in the living room on that one trip. Dad saying that Tony could pee in the sink in his room. It had sexual overtones. I think Tony even wonders if V will sneak up to his room or that the family almost expects it. At any rate Tony felt very uncomfortable with the family dynamics….he read it as overly sexual or like something was expected of him in that realm but he didn’t understand what it was and felt ashamed for not performing correctly. A shaming incident?


message 33: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "It also reminds of how extremely jocular dad and brother were with Tony when they were sitting with him and V in the living room on that one trip. Dad saying that Tony could pee in the sink in his room. It had sexual overtones. I think Tony even wonders if V will sneak up to his room or that the family almost expects it. At any rate Tony felt very uncomfortable with the family dynamics….he read it as overly sexual or like something was expected of him in that realm but he didn’t understand what it was and felt ashamed for not performing correctly. A shaming incident? "

The recollection of that weekend is very, very interesting. Tony presents it to the reader, I think, as his feeling the dad and brother looked down on him, as a class thing, is that what shames him? Later he's not so sure he read them correctly, but he definitely feels out of his element for some reason. And perhaps that feeling is validated by the mother's note and leaving him the money because she does write that she was sorry for the way his family treated him that weekend, leading the reader at first to believe that she's the 'good' family member. But is her stated reason true?

Yes, I think I remember Tony's disappointment that Veronica doesn't sneak into his room, though the one night she walks him to his room, she kisses him and then leaves, and he masturbates into the sink -- is that really what her dad meant when he said he could pee into it? Other odd thing he remembers is that Veronica tells her family Tony will want to sleep in (as she goes for a walk with her brother and father), something that aggravates him, as he says he never does that. Is Veronica testing Tony by leaving him alone with her mother?


message 34: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I always feel out of my depth with English class issues and I tend to ignore them because of that but you're right that T read the dynamics that way. Could it have been partly true and partly him gloaming on to something he could understand vs the sexual quick sand?

Again I'd forgottne the masturbation debacle. There were a heck of a lot of undertones for one short weekend. Maybe V needed to get away from T's presence because the interactions made her uncomfortable too but you make a good point about leaving him alone with mom. Poor T was in over his head with these folks!


message 35: by Cynthia (last edited Feb 11, 2012 10:31AM) (new)

Cynthia Teresa did you read 'Arthur and George' with us (on Booker I think)? And I don't even remember which list we read Barnes' 'Parrot' on but both of them dealt with 'what is really true'. There was George's version of the crime he was accused of vs other people's versions. With 'parrot' there were the varying stories of where the parrot came from and where it ended up. The only other of his books I've read were his short story collection 'cross channel' which I don't remember very well but Barnes seems to like toying with his audience about Truth. I also believe that 'memory' is a side issue. It's Truth or the Nature of Reality that he's getting at.


message 36: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "Could it have been partly true and partly him gloaming on to something he could understand vs the sexual quick sand?"

Yep, great point.


message 37: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "Teresa did you read 'Arthur and George' with us (on Booker I think)? And I don't even remember which list we read Barnes' 'Parrot' on but both of them dealt with 'what is really true'. There was ..."

I did. And then I read Flaubert's Parrot on my own some time after. I haven't read "Cross Channel." If you ever get a chance, read The Lemon Table. They're short stories too and they are beautifully done.


message 38: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I really want to read Lemon but I'm tryng not to spend $ on books. I have more than I need. I'm also dying to read 'nothing to be frieghtened of'. Have my fingers crossed that my library will add some of these to their kindle offerings. For black history month they added scores of Tony Morrison. YAY! Barnes' books never seem to drop much in price :(. Good for him, bad for me. I have the New Yorker dvds and I'm gonna search through and find his stories. Lots of his appeared there. That's where I first heard of him.


message 39: by Sue (new)

Sue Re: all Tony's recollections of "the weekend", this all supposes we are to believe that Tony is remembering correctly and fully and also telling us all. That's something I don't think i can accept.

There are many instances in book 2 where he comes to realize that his earlier recollections were incorrect or incomplete. I wonder how many more instances there might be if the book were to keep going.

Needless to say, I don't really accept any particular ending at this point. I'd even like it proven that Adrian is not in fact Tony's actual College friend, left brain-damaged after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Why else would he be disturbed by Tony's presence. But I know none of the possible endings will ever be the one...which appears to be what Barnes wanted.

I do have a copy of Nothing to Be Frightened Of and I'm looking forward to reading it.


message 40: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Sue writes:

"Needless to say, I don't really accept any particular ending at this point. I'd even like it proven that Adrian is not in fact Tony's actual College friend, left brain-damaged after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Why else would he be disturbed by Tony's presence."

That's a very tantalizing point. I don't see any reason it couldn't be true. People's faces can change after brain damage.....and time of course. I think the fact that you can make such a juicy point Sue speaks to Barnes' ability to entertain and fascinate his readers.


message 41: by Sue (last edited Feb 11, 2012 01:28PM) (new)

Sue Cynthia, that about sums up why I changed my rating to 4 stars. I finally moved from full frustration to a sense of frustration eased by admiration for Barnes skill.

I'm not a person who Likes to be "played with too much by a writer, but here I have a sense there is an underlying point.


message 42: by Teresa (last edited Feb 11, 2012 07:07PM) (new)

Teresa Sue wrote: "I'd even like it proven that Adrian is not in fact Tony's actual College friend, left brain-damaged after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Why else would he be disturbed by Tony's presence. But I know none of the possible endings will ever be the one...which appears to be what Barnes wanted."

While I hadn't thought of the 'son' actually being the 'original' Adrian, I too wondered why he was so disturbed by Tony's presence. Tony did approach him at one point and say he was a friend of Mary's -- perhaps he stared at him to when he realized how much he looked like his college friend -- and all I could come up with is that all of that was enough to bother the younger Adrian.

Re: your theory, Sue, other people (including Adrian's parents) would have had to have been in on any deception, and, if there was one, why would the minder tell Tony that Sarah was Adrian's mother?


message 43: by Sue (new)

Sue In my mind, the minder may only know what Veronica/Mary told him or ??? Truth is very permeable in this story. In the end each of us is creating out own ending. Thus "a sense of an ending". Great title Mr Barnes.


message 44: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· I think we can all agree that there are some points in part 2 that are very hard to explain if you want to read it as a psychological study. For me, those tantalising titbits of information that are dangled in front of poor Tony's nose are almost cartoonish - I mean one single page from the diary! And ending on a half sentence 'If, for instance, Tony had...' !!! And then all that odd behaviour in the car with the group of people - why doesn't she just tell him who they are? Why indeed?
So then we have two choices: either we take Tony's account at face value, in which case Veronica is manipulating him.
Or we take Tony's account to be a fictional narrative, crafted to make him look better and V look worse, in which case he is manipulating us, the readers.
In both cases the common factor is the manipulation, the very obvious manipulation. And for me, this is the main thrust of the novel: the way fiction works and how we read and what pleasures we expect from texts. If Tony had taken heed of Margaret's warning story about the au pair, he'd never have even tried to find out - end of story. Boring. Or if he'd just told us what happened without pretending that he didn't know the ending himself, no tension, boring. That's basically what I was driving at in my review, but with this great discussion my thoughts have become a bit clearer since then!


message 45: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· And another thing (the wheels grind slowly sometimes); all this speculation that you've been doing, all these ideas about what happened that weekend, who the damaged guy is and who his father is, indeed who his mother is, all that is precisely what a historian or a biographer does. It's what is mentioned at the beginning, that thing about history at the point where documentation and speculation meet. The only evidence available is one intriguing page from a diary and a human being who bears a remarkable resemblance to Adrian. All the rest is speculation. Tony's version takes on an aura of authenticity merely because he writes down a cohesive narrative. It's the act of telling it that gives it an aura of truth.
Barnes is a genius.


message 46: by Sue (new)

Sue As I was just saying at your friend Troy's review, Barnes has managed to create a novel that creates its own ongoing discussion. More genius.


message 47: by Teresa (new)

Teresa And what do y'all think of the last line of the book? I think it's even more genius, sort of a big wrap-up of what Karen said above about history, without giving any definite answer (of course), thus adding even more speculation and thought on the reader's part as the book ends.


message 48: by Sue (new)

Sue Wish I had the book...it belongs to a friend.


message 49: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Sue wrote: "Wish I had the book...it belongs to a friend."

It's the line about there being unrest, and then great unrest, referring back to the schoolmate of theirs who was asked what he knew of the time period of Henry VIII.


message 50: by Sue (new)

Sue Oh yes. Great line for any time isn't it.


« previous 1
back to top