aPriL does feral sometimes 's Reviews > The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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Dec 03, 2011

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bookshelves: literary

I know 'The Sense of an Ending' is considered a Booker Prize winner, but it disappointed me. Yes, there are many philosophical statements that appear marvelously insightful, and there are many quotable statements on memory and history about examining mysteries that are unresolved from the past. I did expect an award-winning novel.

So, why do I feel like the book was almost, maybe, a practical joke?

'The Sense of an Ending' feels to me as if the author decided to write a book to draw in and raise the expectations of the literati of a tour de force, using an unreliable narrator, currently a popular literary device, and toss in other seemingly profound literary mechanisms, but then he tacked on an intentionally silly ending (to me, anyway) to bugger them. It is as if the author planned to sit back and watch the fun of readers falling over themselves to praise the book as a prize-winner and project deep intellectual meanings into a story he really just wrote to see how dumb the literary establishment could be.

The first dissonance which struck me was the character of Veronica. As the book continued, I began to despise her and her never-ending refrain of "you don't get it.". No, I didn't. By the time of the Reveal, I was so annoyed by her I hoped she would commit suicide before the book was done. Miss Haversham, I presume? An aristocratic snob of the worst kind, Veronica thinks the Universe owes her perfection. She seems to find Life failed to give her the golden shiny things she felt she deserved, and that the usual homage of ordinary men towards herself has gone missing. It is all too much, so she spews scorching disdain and silence.

Then, there is the gutted narrator, who lives out his life feeling he was done when he was 20 something because of Veronica's rejection of himself and his friend Adrian's suicide. He falls on his sword by accepting it was somehow all his fault, and lives a life of lessor being, giving up all high-flying.

When Veronica's mother leaves a legacy to our narrator after dying, eventually 'the truth' of what happened long ago comes out. Omg. These noble beings turn out to be hiding an MTV reality show plot!

This book is being feted as if it was Great Literature, but to me, it turns into Monty Python. I'm American, not British, so I am supposing maybe this book is a cultural fail for me on how it read to literati and how it read to me - that our intellectual superiors' messy lives are Emotionally Significant. Yawn. I thought it simply a tawdry story of sexual impulses acted on which resulted in consequences that impact innocent parties who are owed some sort of compensation, even if it's only an explanation. Nothing more significant is involved in this plot.

Yes, initially the book gave me the impression it will explore eternal truths, but instead I felt I was in a boring Joan Crawford soap-opera movie from the 1950's.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 3, 2011 – Shelved
December 3, 2011 – Shelved as: literary
December 3, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl I guess maybe the 'star rating' means something different to you than it's defined by GR? Your review makes it seem like one or two stars would be more apt for this. Btw, I gave it only one, for many of the same reasons you explained better.


aPriL does feral sometimes My star system is irrational so I must totally be challenged for my ratings at all times! I gave it three because of all the quotable sentences that sound so lovely out of context. If you memorized some of the lines you will sound very smart. However, the story taken in entirety turns into something ridiculous and annoying, like technicolor in old movies. Instead of grabbing for a hankie, I was hooting with incredulous laughter by the end. My system is pretty idiosyncratic. I divide up stars between the writing excellence, turn of phrases, tightness of plot, creativity, my tearing up due to sadness or falling out of my chair from laughing, exciting pace, lovability of a character. Genre matters, too. I'll give five stars to a murder mystery despite its failure to be literature on any level if it is a good genre story. I possess very little class, British or American. I'm opinionated as heck. I tend to listen more to the twists in my brain instead of experts, but I never ignore the experts. I think, though, many of them skimmed this book and they didn't READ it...


message 3: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Thanks for writing! I love your attitude and would like to follow your reviews.


Cecily Opinionated is good - especially on GR. Don't ever apologise for it!


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