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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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's review
Sep 10, 2011

really liked it
Read from October 13 to 17, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

A short novel, but this managed to touch upon a lot of time honored themes (the particular problems of memory, the unreliable narrator) in an original way. I'll be the first to admit that this story is bereft of likeable characters, most especially the protagonist Tony, but the story more than compensates for the reader's lack of sympathy. There were plenty of twists and turns in the narrative, and although I did not see the ending coming, it still felt natural. I also felt that the progression of the story was authentic; I could see this story realistically happening, and that is truly the mark of an excellent tale. The writing is also especially beautiful at points (hardly a surprise, given that it won the Booker).

My criticism is that the ending leaves many unanswered questions. While I can understand why the author did it (how best to finish a story about the confusion of memory by creating a confusing ending?) I still find it to be aggravating nonetheless. If you've got an unreliable narrator, at least leave enough clues for the reader to figure out the ending apart from the narrator's observations. All that being said, the unanswered questions at least gave me enough food for thought that I puzzled over the book for far longer than I typically do when I've finished a novel.

This review most likely seems vague; it's difficult to say all that much without spoiling parts, and I would not want to do that for anyone inclined to read the book. But if you're in the mood for a book that will challenge your notions of memory and make you ask yourself how events in your life may have really happened versus your version of how they happened, then you'll enjoy The Sense of an Ending.
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Quotes Brian Liked

Julian Barnes
“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

Julian Barnes
“Yes, of course we were pretentious -- what else is youth for?”
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

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