Cheryl's Reviews > The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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Oct 22, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: literature, favorites, british, 2011-top-ten
Read from October 14 to 15, 2011 — I own a copy

A wonderful book. Tony, an older man, recently retired, reflects on his callow teenage years and the relationships he had with his best friends, and with his first girlfriend. More recent events make him think again about the nature of memory, and about the rolling changes of history. Their history teacher many years ago had asked them to consider, 'What is history?'. One of Tony's friends Adrian said that "History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation." This is the core around which the novel revolves. Or evolves. As Tony struggles to reconcile his life, his memories, he says "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."
The book is so thoughtful and insightful that one can't help but extrapolate and wonder how parts of Barnes himself and his famous friends, Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis, fit in. When one of the characters is described as having developed esophageal cancer after a life of hard drinking, I think surely that must be a gesture towards Hitchens.
This is a terrific book that will be even better with the re-read. I hope he will finally get his Booker with this one, the fourth of his novels to be nominated.
(PS so glad he did win!!!)
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Quotes Cheryl Liked

Julian Barnes
“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending


Reading Progress

10/14/2011 page 1
1.0% "Third one for the Booker list. It's gotta be better than Snowdrops."
10/15/2011 page 88
55.0% "wonderful"
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Brian (new)

Brian Tilbury clever of you to see the Hitchens tie-in!
But why did Veronica become Mary?


Cheryl Early on in the book, p 20, he introduced her as Veronica Mary Elizabeth Ford. On page 147 he says he remembers that Adrian called her by her middle name. So I guess that's why later on at the end of the book she is called that, because it relates to Adrian. But is there anything behind the author's decision to choose the name Mary, as in Mother Mary, or is that over-reading


message 3: by Brian (new)

Brian Tilbury Ah!


message 4: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted Very nice review Cheryl. You mention things which caught my attention when I read it. It's still the only book by Barnes I've read, but I hope not the last.


Cheryl Ted wrote: "Very nice review Cheryl. You mention things which caught my attention when I read it. It's still the only book by Barnes I've read, but I hope not the last."
Thanks Ted. I've read several other books of his too, although not yet Flaubert's Parrot which seems to be about his most well known, at least prior to this one. I loved his collection of essays Through the Window: Seventeen Essays and a Short Story, especially when he describes his own love of books.


message 6: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted Cheryl wrote: "Ted wrote: "Very nice review Cheryl. You mention things which caught my attention when I read it. It's still the only book by Barnes I've read, but I hope not the last."
Thanks Ted. I've read seve..."


Thanks for the Parrot mention, now we're equal both have it on to-read. The essays collection I already had on to-read.


message 7: by Kalliope (new) - added it

Kalliope I love the way Barnes writes... I still have to read this one and the collection of essays you mention in #5... but have read the Parrot.


Seemita I loved your references to Hitchens and Amis, Cheryl! Barnes has a delightful way of writing which I loved a bit too much in this book :)


Cheryl Seemita wrote: "I loved your references to Hitchens and Amis, Cheryl! Barnes has a delightful way of writing which I loved a bit too much in this book :)"
He has a delightful way of speaking too - his interviews are so good. My favourite author interviewer, Eleanor Wachtel on the Canadian CBC Radio, interviewed him several years ago here http://www.cbc.ca/radio/writersandcom... Lovely.


Cheryl Kalliope wrote: "I love the way Barnes writes... I still have to read this one and the collection of essays you mention in #5... but have read the Parrot."
I'm sorry I didn't reply before Kalliope, just saw your comment now. I haven't yet read the Parrot yet either. I guess I can't bemoan the lack of new books from him when I havent read all his backlist yet. He has a new one on art that has just been released though, that might appeal especially to you? Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art


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