Jo Anne B's Reviews > The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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Sep 11, 2011

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Read in September, 2011

It was hard for me to like this book. I didn't like the main character Tony Webster, a sixty something lonely divorced man filled with nostalgia and regret about the past. The author had several great philosophical insights that made the book worthwhile. I just wish he could have left the rest out.

I did not care for the retelling of Tony's past relationships, including his friends in high school and college, lovers, marriages, and divorce. I suppose it was all necessary for the author in order to support his philosophical thoughts about how we view our past vs. how it really happened. But I get the point he is trying to make without all the boring back story. Also, the author was building up to a surprise ending which didn't even phase me because of how little I cared for the characters. It was all just to prove that memories are just a matter of perspective.

The author should have just made this into an essay on the human condition including the following quotes that get darker and lead up to the sense of an ending:

"What you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you witnessed."

"If I can't be sure of the actual events anymore, I can at least be true to the impressions those facts left."

"After we broke up she slept with me" easily flips into "She left with me, then I broke up with her."

"The history that happens underneath our noses ought to be the clearest, but it is the most deliquescent."

"We all end up belonging to the same category, the non-young."

"Rather there is something wrong with the young who can't be fascinated by a genius."

"I'm not odd enough not to have done the things I ended up doing in my life."

"It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others."

"And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told by others, but-mainly- to ourselves."

"When you are in your twenties, even if you're confused and uncertain about your aims and purposes, you have a strong sense of what life itself it, and of what you in life are, and might become. Later...later there is more uncertainty, more overlapping, more backtracking, more false memories. Back then, you can remember your short life in its entirety."

MY FAVORITE QUOTE "Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving, however long it takes, that life isn't all it's cracked up to be."

"Who was it that said the longer we live, the less we understand?"

"You get towards the end of life-no, not life itself, but of something else; the end of any likelihood of change in that life. You are allowed a long moment of pause, time enough to ask the question: what else have I done wrong?"

"There is accumulation. There is responsibility. And beyond these, there is unrest. There is great unrest."

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Victor Carson I like your review, although I gave the novel 5 stars. I identify with Tony because I am a man of about his age. You identify, perhaps, with Veronica and Margaret, who were bored with Tony. That Tony did not understand Veronica seems very clear and that his abuse of her harmed her and his friend Adrian, it also clear. I plan to reread this book to better understand Veronica and her mother.

Chris Its the only book I have ever re-read staright away for the reasons you give; maybe its about 're-reading" our own lives!

Bookwormlisa Like you, I got to the end of the book & just didn't care about any of the characters, not one. I was left feeling disappointed. The book didn't draw me in, it didn't engage me.

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