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

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in November, 2011

Women will want to slap this guy silly. You know the type. You think that behind the quiet exterior lies a man with real depth. You assume he’s quiet because he’s pondering soulful truths but really he’s quiet because he’s afraid to articulate what’s on his mind, most likely because he’s never had the courage to examine and challenge his own beliefs and rationalizations. His lack of intimacy with himself mirrors his inability to be intimate with others.

Tony has kept himself safe for years, hiding behind his “peaceable” nature. No real intimacy with others, including a distant daughter and an ex-wife who treats him like a safety til a real man comes along. A blast from his past shakes him up and his actions speak to a desire for a deeper connection but he’s too unaware of his own feelings to know how to proceed. Poor Veronica. I’m guessing 40 years earlier, she originally thought Tony might have more to offer, realized there was little there, and moved on to what she hoped were more interesting and intimate pastures. Her ending was bleaker than she deserved for simply choosing poorly.

Interesting ruminations on memory, history, who gets to shape the story, and how do we really know the truth of any situation. Ultimately a cautionary tale about the consequences of an unexamined life.
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