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The Sense of an Ending

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  125,886 Ratings  ·  14,083 Reviews
Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize

One of The Atlantic's Best Books I Read This Year

A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single setting, The Sense of an Ending has the psychological and emotional depth and sophistication of Henry James at his best, and is a stunning new chapter in Julian Barnes's oeuvre.
 
This intense novel follows Tony Webster, a middle-aged
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Paperback, 163 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Vintage (first published August 4th 2011)
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Petra X
Just brilliant. The book at first appears, right to the end, to be a rather mundane story of the life of an ordinary man who is neither perceptive about the people around him nor does he see himself in a clear light. Only at the end is it apparent that there were two different stories being written at the same time and you can perceive all the clues to the second story only in hindsight although they were so clear, you wonder how you could have missed them. You wonder how the protagonist could h ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Angus Miranda
Shelves: booker, favorites, stylish
When Veronika said, ”You don’t get it. You never did.” I told myself: so, why don’t you tell him? Grrr. If only these people (Barnes’ characters) would sit down and discuss amongst themselves, then there will be no problem. Then Tony Webster will not have to spend all his life trying to grapple the memories he thought to be contained in his whole pathetic life. You see, Tony Webster is a double-sided man: he seems to be this gentle go-with-the-flow nice man who respects his girlfriend not to hav ...more
Jim Fonseca
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is by Julian Barnes so we know it will focus on memory and its tricks. Some examples: “…but what you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you witnessed.” And “I need to return briefly to a few incidents that have grown into anecdotes, to some approximate memories which time has deformed into certainty.” And “again, I must stress that this is my reading now of what happened then. Or rather, my memory now of my reading then of what was happening at the time.”

The book is a Booker
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Steve
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of my closest GR friends may have noticed that I’ve been less active around here lately. Unfortunately, there’s a reason for that. It’s nothing dire, but it’s still sad for me to have to say. As it turns out, I’m going to have to hang up my spurs, albeit for reasons that have nothing to do with my friends here, and not even much to do with me. It has to do with my niece’s husband who until recently had been a web application developer at Goodreads. The past perfect tense applies because, wh ...more
Cecily
This is an exploration of memory, exquisitely written as the thoughts of an old man, looking back on his life - good enough to merit 5*, despite the somewhat contrived ending (ironic, given the title).

Imagery

It opens with six watery images (an unexpected word in several of them makes them more vivid), each of which form part of the story:

“I remember, in no particular order:
- a shiny inner wrist;
- steam rising from a wet sink as a frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;
- gouts of sperm circling
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Auntjenny
Dec 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely has a plot, but a pathetic one. Thin characters, cliched ideas. I feel annoyed by having read this book. OK, there was one good quote: “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.”

But ultimately, the plot is a gimmick! I don't understand how this won the Booker Prize.

What the heck did Tony ever do to anyone except send a crappy letter to an ex-girlfrien
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Emily May
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: philosophy fanatics
Recommended to Emily May by: Melina Marchetta
Shelves: 2012

I think my years as a philosophy student were actually detrimental to my enjoyment of this short novel about life and memory. The stuff that has left other people reeling in amazement reminded me of little more than just another essay on the mind and the way we think, the way we interpret events and the way our memories can let us down. Mr Barnes is clearly a clever man and his writing is a touch complex but always charming. However, is this really that original anymore?

I don't think so. I can
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Jason
Nov 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-kindle, 2012, reviewed
Tony Webster is a shallow douchebag.

First of all, let’s get something straight. I don’t believe people should be judged too harshly for behavior they exhibited in adolescence. That’s not to say that people are not responsible for actions they committed in their youth; it just means that their actions as teenagers do not necessarily reflect the kind of people they will become as adults. So my problem with Tony Webster isn’t that he was an asshole in high school. In fact, I’d probably be a bit hyp
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Paul Bryant
Sep 11, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Such was the big fat craptastic big-reveal groanworthy lurid pulpy Victorian melodramatic you-got-to-be-kidding ending-with-no-sense that the two stars this novel was hanging on to by its fingernails up to page 130 slipped out of its grasp and it ended up with the ignominious one star, but since that puts it in the same company as many much-loved novels it may well be worn as a Badge Of Honour – I envisage one of those peelable stickers on all future editions A P BRYANT ONE STAR NOVEL!! and Juli ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never really intended to read this book, and I certainly had no intention of owning it.

Photobucket

I was browsing in a B&N sitting out a winter storm in Lincoln, Nebraska and ran across of stack of The Sense of an Ending with BOOKER PRIZE WINNER blazoned across the front of the book. I dug through the stack of third printings and there near the bottom was one book with BOOKER PRIZE NOMINEE on the cover. Well it is sort of cosmic for a collector such as I to find one first American edition in the
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Teresa
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book got under my skin. Not in the negative way, like what Tony, the narrator, may be doing, or trying to do, to Veronica, who 40 years ago was his first serious girlfriend, but in the way he describes how his ex-wife would dress a chicken -- slipping butter and herbs under the skin, with a delicate hand, never breaking the outer layer. I was hooked from the first page and even when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it, even in my sleep, or, more likely, semi-sleep. I was pulled int ...more
Adina
4.5*

Update: There is going to be a movie after the book and it is coming out this month! if interested you can see the trailer here: https://www.facebook.com/vintagebooks...

A story about the unreliability of memory and how we can chose to forget or to reinvent the past in order not to remember disturbing truths.

I discovered this book by Julian Barnes when reading comments about Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan which is a book I also enjoyed. The tone of the story is quite similar in some ways. Barne
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Nataliya
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kris, Jim, Ian Graye
Recommended to Nataliya by: Iffletoe

Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending has a lot packed in the short 150 or so pages.

Memory and history, responsibility and blame, deceit, misunderstandings, aging, guilt, remorse - and, of course, a safely passive coasting on the smooth sailing surface of life, occasionally interrupted by the tidal waves of unexpected upheavals and disturbances, just like Severn Bore, seen once by Tony Webster and Veronica.

"We live with such easy assumptions, don’t we? For instance, that memory equals events p
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Marita
Is it because the main protagonist and I are of an age that I enjoyed his ruminations on memory and time so much? Yes, that is part of it, but Julian Barnes has a wonderful turn of phrase and he is a keen observer who knows how to articulate those observations.

I loved the elasticity of time and the relationship of memory to time:
*how time slows down or speeds up
*how time binds us and yet, as the narrator Tony Webster argues, time is a solvent rather than a fixative
*how time affects memory so t
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Lizzy
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Again, I must stress that this is my reading now of what happened then. Or rather, my memory now of my reading then of what was happening at the time.
From the first page, I was carried away by Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending and its wonderful story. For such a short novel it seems to waste no words, and only speeds between breaths to tell us about the capriciousness of our memories. I think it cannot be truer that memory is a fickle friend. More than a story, this was a lyrical lesson w
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Liz
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book literally grabbed me from the first page. I found myself highlighting phrase after phrase. The narrator starts the book looking back at his school days. He's got the presence of mind to understand exactly what he and the other lads were like in those days. He also has the understanding of how memory truly works. “...what you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed.” Or this “ I need to return briefly to a few incidents that have grown into anecdotes.”

The wr
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Rakhi Dalal
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Rakhi by: Norman
Shelves: favorites
Has it ever occurred to you that while you are complacently sitting, basking in the self acquired glory of wisdom, you chance upon something, like an incident, a person or a written word, which forces you to revisit your understanding and knowledge of the life as you know it? And then you gasp with a sudden disbelief at the ignorance which might have silently crept in and stayed along while you felt contented with your version of perceptions? I felt the same while reading this book. To say that ...more
Brina
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, man-booker
I find it appropriate that my last review of 2017 is titled The Sense of an Ending. Recently I read In the Noise of Time by Julian Barnes. Upon returning it to the library, two of my branch librarians asked me if I had ever read any of Barnes other works, and I answered, unfortunately, no. While reading about Shostakovich, I immediately fell in love with Barnes' flawless prose. My librarians know their patrons and reserved me The Sense of an Ending. A Man Booker winner, Barnes has wowed his read ...more
Fabian
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Sense of an Ending is the type of British novel ALL OTHER AMERICAN NOVELS TREMBLE IN THE PRESENCE OF. It is blessed with an aura of flawless, impeccable English perfection; the prose is exquisitely clean & concise, GODLY by most-- especially my own-- standards.

It is an uncommon, unpolluted work that should be embedded in psychology books everywhere: the gears of life are described in their rare light, in degrees that, you must agree, can only possibly come from another world, or another
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Maybe, like Tony, I just don't get it, but this was a whole lot of Man Booker-winning to-do about very little.

Pretentious, upper middle-class schoolboys behave badly, and -- through too much ego and too little self-knowledge and empathy, too many book smarts and not enough life experience -- inflict cruelty on ex-girlfriends and others as they cavalierly grow out of their coddled adolescence into a ho-hum average life. It then comes back to haunt them - or one of them, anyway - in late middle-a
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Orsodimondo
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LA BESTIA NELLA GIUNGLA
È un libro breve, solo 145 pagine di testo - ma, io ne avrei volute di più.
È un libro piccolo, ma grande di pensieri-elaborazioni-riflessioni, suggerite e generate.
È libro che ha vinto un premio importante (Booker Prize 2011), con pieno merito mi pare.
È, credo si sia capito, un libro che mi è piaciuto molto, che mi ha lasciato pieno di stupore, di domande con risposte che fatico a trovare.
Un libro che mi ha commosso.

description
Jimmy Broadbent-Tony Webster, protagonista dell’adatt
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ by: Petra X
$1.99 Kindle sale, Feb. 10, 2018, for this literary fiction novel that does a great job of playing with perceptions. I pulled out this short Booker Prize novel one night, thinking I'd just read a bit to get a feel for it, to know what to tell my book club about it, since I needed to suggest a choice of 4 or 5 books to my book club the next day for their vote. A few hours later I finished the book, moved but a little bewildered.

In the first fifty pages the narrator, Tony, tells of some events in
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Fionnuala
Reviewed in January, 2012

One of the things I admire about Barnes is the pared down nature of his writing. Every word counts.
The division of this novella into two parts also counts. The reader could start with Part Two and the book wouldn't be any less clear. In fact, possible answers to most of the questions raised at the end of the book can be found on rereading Part One. More enlightenment comes while rereading Part Two.

(The following paragraph may contain spoilers)
As to the possible answer
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Andrew Smith
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book at Paddington railway station, to read on the way home. It's not my normal type of book but I knew it had won the man Booker Prize and I'd seen some positive comment in the press. It's a short book (one of the reasons I bought it) and it quickly confirmed itself to me as a wise purchase; I was laughing out loud after a few pages, totally hooked. Barnes is obviously a clever guy and I found I had to look up a few words along the way (I was home by then). But as a former lexicog ...more
Riku Sayuj
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tanuj Solanki, Vikram Johari, Mohit Parikh, Arnab, Shafi
What a wonderful wonderful novel. No, not a novel, or a novella; it was a poem, with rhythm, repetition, and cadence, looping back on itself. Yes, it can only be called a poem - a poem about time, about forgotten time, long gone cold.

Having laid off from new Booker winners after a traumatic experience with Adiga, I started on this book with a lot of trepidation. But I was drawn in from the first paragraph and the amazing childhood anecdotes seemed to be promising a night of unbroken reading! I
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Iris P


The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

It's probably safe to say that most of us have, at some point in our lives, done or said things we have come to regret. That phone call you made when you were extremely upset. That bitter email you shouldn't have written. That text message you were too prompt to send.

If you had the opportunity of visiting a younger version of yourself and review what that other you said, felt, discovered, did or didn't do, how do you think it would measure up against the older you? Would
...more
Aldrin
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aldrin by: Man Booker Prize 2011 Shortlist
In the last sentence of the first paragraph of the new, Booker-shortlisted novella “The Sense of an Ending,” the narrator states that “what you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.” Preceding it is a short list of what he remembers: “a shiny inner wrist,” “steam rising from a wet sink,” “gouts of sperm circling a plughole,” “a river rushing nonsensically upstream,” “another river,” and “bathwater long gone cold behind a locked door.” Following it is a hundred-plus ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Umm. I mean this book was written ok and I get it, the whole unreliable narrator thing, but the protagonist is like a psychopath or what? I mean how could he have forgotten? And if what I think happened happened, WTF would Veronique still be talking to him? Why would the mom send him 500 pounds? WTF was that mathematical formula about? Maybe I a just too dense for English post-modernism and I gotta still to American post-modernist,. Hmpf. Disappointed :(
Kinga
Dec 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me begin by saying that I don’t mind short, understated books – novellas if you like. I do like them. What I don’t like is paying the same money for a 150 page book, that could have easily been written by a skilled writer in a month, that I have to pay for a 826 page book involving loads of research full of medieval and linguistic references (yes, I am reading Nicola Barker’s Darkmans). I just don’t think that’s fair.

That said, it was a pretty decent book. It follows a very simple formula of
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Gerald
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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3,624 followers
Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize--- Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Following an education at the City of London School
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More about Julian Barnes

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“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn't turn out to be like Literature.” 2890 likes
“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.” 703 likes
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