Hazel Osmond's Reviews > The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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Dec 08, 11

Read in December, 2011

My book club read this book, but as I had been too busy to 'do my homework' I sat and listened to their views and the consensus was that the book was well written but left no mark. I approached it therefore expecting a bit of a forensic exploration of a disappointed life.

That wasn't what I got out of it. I won't go back over the plot, there are plenty of other places you can find that, but this struck me as a quite extraordinary book, something that actually seems to show a mind in transit, a set of values falling, but still enough remnants of self-delusion remaining that perhaps we need for mental survival.

The narrator is only unreliable in the sense that we all are, we all delude ourselves about the role we have played in events, the significance of some facts compared with others, how others see us. Even how we see ourselves. I loved how Barnes used the elements of detective novels (a part of a diary, a letter, being taken to see something) to reveal the past and further muddy it. I didn't mind that I wasn't one hundred per cent sure what had been going on that weekend he had been invited to his girlfriend's house. Had he been set up for the mother? Did he unwittingly send his friend into her clutches?

There was enough wit and wisdom in this book to make me want to keep it on my bookshelves for a long, long time. And the characters absolutely lived and the way the narrator's perception of them shifted was, I felt, beautifully done. A great read in the sense that it stays with you afterwards and quite fitting, given the subject, that you can't quite pin down the reality of what happened.
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