Larry's Reviews > The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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M_50x66
's review
Nov 30, 11

bookshelves: kindle
Read from November 20 to 25, 2011

I chose The Sense of an Ending because it won the Man Booker prize, and I have had good luck with other Booker winners (Salman Rushdie, Hilary Mantel...). Wolf Hall and Midnight's Children were massive tomes, and a real commitment. By contrast, The Sense of an Ending is short; a quick read and very enjoyable. The protagonist, Tony, is an ordinary guy, with ordinary ideas. He is telling the story from his later years, and warns us at the start that his memory may not be all that accurate, as he retells his life from his Sixth Form years through university in substantial (and possibly inaccurate) detail, his 3 close friends, and his first love. He then moves rapidly through his life to his 60's, to bring us to a mystery. I won't give details of the mystery, but it is an excellent one involving one of his Sixth Form friends, his first girlfriend, mysterious suicides, enigmatic diaries, a strange bequest, and letters and emails.

UPDATE: There are a number of places in the narrative where Tony is told "you don't get it." And towards the end, "You STILL don't get it." At the very end, Tony "gets it", and I thought I did also. Until I discussed it with my wife, who also thought she got it. However, she came at it from a different point of view; together we both discovered that we actually didn't get it when we thought we did, and together we finally DID "get it." In all of "its" glory. I urge the reader to be sure they "get it" also. When you do you will see that there are no loose ends, that every action and observation, no matter how trivial sounding, goes into the final answer to the mystery. Even a single, horizontal hand movement - which was the key.

It's definitely a male perspective throughout; all of the female characters are enigmatic to Tony and us; his fantasies and reactions those of a typical teenage male at the start, and a typical male geezer at the end. This sense of reality mirrors the lives of most of us (males), making The Sense of an Ending and Tony utterly understandable to the reader.
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