Dilipickle's Reviews > The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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Oct 29, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: existential-philosophical, best-of-2011, all-time-favourite
Read in October, 2011

The book's narrator, Tony Webster is a divorcee in his sixties who has led, by all means a very ordinary life. As with any one who has seen the last of their youth, Tony recalls it with a particular nostalgia and self-deception, especially of a woman that came in to his life back then and a school friend he both admired and envied. But this is no Coming Up for Air kind of literary trip down memory lane with an ageing, existential man, although Tony Webster most definitely is ageing, and if not existential, philosophical. But at the heart of this memoir is a "mystery" that holds it all together and drives the narrative forward.

The book is in two parts: the first part could very well stand on its own as an excellent coming of age short story about a group of young school boys; but it is in the second part, when Tony discovers that he has been passed down the diary of his former school friend, the recollections of his past has a purpose beyond nostalgia. I loved the way in which Tony goes from being a self-assured youth to a self-deceptive and even self-doubtful man, as perhaps we all do within the course of our own lives. He also reminds us on several occasions that this story is narrative in retrospect and the book on the whole explores what this means, in terms of memory, and its subjectivity. Ultimately it's a story about history, and the ambiguity of it, even when this history is your very own.

There's a lot to be savoured in The Sense of an Ending, with many sentences and passages I know I will re-visit. I remember a quote by C.S. Lewis that went, "we read to know we're not alone"--in the sense that we read to find empathy, companionship, thoughts that echo our own but only with far more wit and poetry. That's when a book becomes more than just a jolly good read. This was such a book.

Read complete review here: http://mydillydallying.blogspot.com/2...
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Quotes Dilipickle Liked

Julian Barnes
“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.”
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

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Halik -in the sense that we read to find empathy, companionship, thoughts that echo our own but only with far more wit and poetry.

amen to that!

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