Sue's Reviews > The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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Feb 11, 12

bookshelves: britain, contemporary-fiction, read-in-2012, kindle
Recommended to Sue by: Constant Reader
Read from December 31, 2011 to February 09, 2012

So much has been said about this book. I don't want to add spoilers here though most people I know have already read it. Sense of an Ending concerns memory, how we retrieve it and shape it, it's subjectivity and malleability over time, aging which is part of all our lives (should we survive) and inevitable death.

I had a large gap between book 1 and 2 as I was reading it on a friend's iPad. That was a nice experience---as was discussing the book afterward. The reading varied. Barnes' writing is nice to read but the actual work could be frustrating. But that may be the point of it all. It's all dependent on that greatly undependable thing: memory. How much do we believe Antony our narrator? How much does he believe himself with his recall of events 40 years in the past?

I have 2 or 3 options myself and I'm sure you will have your own. Perhaps this is the mark of a very successfully written novel that fully meets it's objective. But it also is a frustrating novel, alternating interesting and enjoyable to read with confusing and difficult to comprehend in total.

Update 2/11/12: After much discussion with others (see thread at Teresa Brader's review of this book) I decided to add a star to my rating. Barnes' goals and objectives are ultimately known only by him, but if he wanted to create a work that would lead to ongoing discussion of the meaning of memory and aging--well he certainly has. And this discussion really can't have just one result as it's so personal just as the story is.

So much going on here, I've been forced to rethink it a bit in spite of myself.
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Reading Progress

01/01/2012
45.0%
01/01/2012
45.0% "favorite Tony Webster observation so far (to paraphrase), the 60s happened in the 70s. People in the 60s were really living in the 50s. So true Tony."
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Mikki I plan on starting this over the weekend. How are you enjoying it so far?


message 2: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue It's an odd, though well-written book. I'm reading it on a friend's iPod so I'll finish it when I visit her probably next week. I just began part 2 which seems to have a different tone. I'm not blown away so far.


Mikki Hmmmmmm...


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

Sue While I'm not blown away, I DO want to know what is going to happen in the second part.


Friederike Knabe Sue, I had very similar reactions to you. Not overwhelming how he resolves the outstanding questions, although that made me give the novel 4 stars in the end. He writes very well, of course, but I wonder if he really cared what his readers would make of it all...


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

Sue I think that's probably contributing to my frustration. I have Nothing to Be Frightened Ofwhich I'm hoping (and anticipating) will be a bit more straight forward.


Friederike Knabe I have not read that but look forward to what you have to say about it.


message 8: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Once again it's just a matter of when I'll read it.


Asma Fedosia Sue, I think I'd like to read this novel about "memory and aging", which I got a sense (!) of while reading your review.


Teresa Sue wrote: "I think that's probably contributing to my frustration. I have Nothing to Be Frightened Ofwhich I'm hoping (and anticipating) will be a bit more straight forward."

I think it is, Sue. He's very open about his fear of death and how he feels about aging, memory and identity. He's also funny at times, despite the heavy topic.


message 11: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Teresa I have to say I'm loving the discussion at your review and it has help my thoughts and feelings about this book coalesce.


message 12: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Asmah wrote: "Sue, I think I'd like to read this novel about "memory and aging", which I got a sense (!) of while reading your review."

It is an odd book and really a novella. I encourage you to read and join the discussion at Teresa's review after reading (not before).


Teresa Sue wrote: "Teresa I have to say I'm loving the discussion at your review and it has help my thoughts and feelings about this book coalesce."

Me too! Love it when that kind of conversation happens! It adds to my enjoyment and aids in a deeper understanding as well.


message 14: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue So true Teresa. I've been doing somew group and buddy reads lately and i'm finding the discussions really helpful, especially for the more difficult or less accessible ones. It has enhanced my reading in ways I hadn't expected. And I'm definitely finding it with this book.


Cecily It is definitely a thought-provoking book, and that effect continues after you've finished it. Like this review, perhaps?


message 16: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Absolutely.


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