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The Sense of an Ending (Borzoi Books) [Kindle Edition]

Julian Barnes
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,108 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $6.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize

By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse.
 
This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.
 
A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Packs quite an emotional punch... Julian Barnes unravels the mystery with masterly skill. He springs surprise after surprise without stooping to sensationalism in a crisp, engaging tale" -- Max Davidson Daily Mail "Written in beautifully cadenced prose, it is a mature writer's reflections on love and marriage... on family and friendship, on work and death" Time Out "There is no catastrophe, simply a dawning awareness of the past, its consequences and its meaning for the present. It is a familiar narrative structure, but in the hands of the master-wordsmith that Barnes has become, the effect is cumulatively overwhelming... A compelling, disturbing and profoundly moving story of human fallibility" -- Daniel Johnson Standpoint "It is a perfect novel of positively European economy and power (shades of Schnitzler, shades of Camus)... It is beyond the wit and depth of any current British writer" -- Giles Coran Times "Its technical expertise is little short of remarkable...a writer with an all-too rare attribute, a perfect literary ear. Take a page at random and read it aloud, and enjoy its finely tuned exactitude" -- Keith Miller Telegraph

Review

“Elegant, playful, and remarkable.” —The New Yorker
 
“A page-turner, and when you finish you will return immediately to the beginning.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Beautiful. . . . An elegantly composed, quietly devastating tale.” —Heller McAlpin, NPR
 
“Dense with philosophical ideas. . . . It manages to create genuine suspense as a sort of psychological detective story.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Evelyn Waugh did it in Brideshead Revisited, as did Philip Larkin in Jill [and] Kazuo Ishiguro in The Remains of the Day. Now, with his powerfully compact new novel, Julian Barnes takes his place among the subtly assertive practitioners of this quiet art.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“[A] jewel of conciseness and precision…. The Sense of an Ending packs into so few pages so much that the reader finishes it with a sense of satisfaction more often derived from novels several times its length.” —The Los Angeles Times
 
“Exquisitely crafted, sophisticated, suspenseful, and achingly painful, The Sense of an Ending is a meditation on history, memory, and individual responsibility.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Clever, provocative. . . . A brilliant, understated examination of memory and how it works, how it compartmentalizes and fixes impressions to tidily store away.” —The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“Concisely written and yet rich and full of emotional depth. . . . It’s highly original as well. And complicated, just like life.” —New York Journal of Books

“Elegiac yet potent, The Sense of an Ending probes the mysteries of how we remember and our impulse to redact, correct—and sometimes entirely erase—our pasts.” —Vogue
 
“Ominous and disturbing….  This outwardly tidy and conventional story is one of Barnes’s most indelible [and] looms oppressively in our minds.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“At 163 pages, The Sense of an Ending is the longest book I have ever read, so prepare yourself for rereading. You won’t regret it.” —Jane Juska, The San Francisco Chronicle
 
“With his characteristic grace and skill, Barnes manages to turn this cat-and-mouse game into something genuinely suspenseful.” —The Washington Post
 
“Ferocious. . . . A book for the ages.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
“Concisely written and yet rich and full of emotional depth. . . . At times, side-splittingly funny, at others, brutally honest, but always delightfully well observed. . . . Ironically, despite focusing on endings, and on suicide, this is a tremendously life-affirming work. It’s highly original as well. And complicated, just like life.” —New York Journal of Books
 
“Elegiac yet potent, The Sense of an Ending probes the mysteries of how we remember and our impulse to redact, correct – and sometimes entirely erase – our pasts. . . . Barnes’s highly wrought meditation on aging gives just as much resonance to what is unknown and unspoken as it does to the momentum of its own plot.” —Vogue
 
“Novel, fertile and memorable . . . . A highly wrought meditation on aging, memory and regret.” —The Guardian (London)
 
“A brilliant, understated examination of memory and how it works, how it compartmentalizes and fixes impressions to tidily store away. . . . Clever, provocative. . . . Barnes reminds his readers how fragile is the tissue of impressions we conveniently rely upon as bedrock.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
"Brief, beautiful. . . . That fundamentally chilling question—Am I the person I think I am?—turns out to be a surprisingly suspenseful one. . . . As Barnes so elegantly and poignantly reveals, we are all unreliable narrators, redeemed not by the accuracy of our memories but by our willingness to question them." —The Boston Globe.
 
“Quietly mesmerizing. . . . A slow burn, measured but suspenseful, this compact novel makes every slyly crafted sentence count.” —The Independent (London)
 
"Deliciously intriguing...with complex and subtle undertones [and] laced with Barnes' trademark wit and graceful writing." —The Washington Times


Product Details

  • File Size: 1028 KB
  • Print Length: 162 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307360822
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 5, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004YWKKEG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,212 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
391 of 419 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "How far do the limits of responsibility extend?" November 1, 2011
By jfp2006
Format:Hardcover
**CONTAINS SPOILERS**
I see that The Sense of an Ending has polarized opinion here and there. Personally I found it an almost - but not quite - immaculate piece of short fiction. And far, far superior to the other four Booker-shortlisted titles I've read. Barnes's novella is to my mind a minor classic.

The evidence of Barnes's mastery is there right from the title. I remember being struck, when reading one of Barnes's earlier novels, Talking It Over, by the way in which the title gradually took on a meaning radically different from what might have been anticipated: it might be supposed that people talk things over in order to make sense of them, to reach a more accurate understanding of them. However, it became clear that the alternating narrators of Talking It Over found themselves, whether or not deliberately, complicating the meaning of events and experiences by narrating them: talking things over became strangely similar to covering things over, or papering over awkward cracks.

Similarly, The Sense of an Ending is a title which begins to swim before the reader's eyes. The narrator, Tony, this time well into middle age, is, again, thinking things over. This time there is at least a double ambiguity: the "ending" can be taken to be death itself, or, more vaguely, the way various things turn out. And the sense of an ending is both the premonition of death, and of the fact that life is less and less likely to change radically towards its end, as one gets older - and also the need to make sense, retrospectively, of past events, including the death of Adrian, an old schoolfriend of the narrator's.
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635 of 697 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, I didn't get it either October 18, 2011
Format:Hardcover
At 176 pages, The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes Man Booker-nominated latest is barely even a novella. Yet, there's something to be said for an author willing to tell a story in the time that is needed to tell it, and not feeling compelled to pad the narrative. Mr. Barnes has included exactly what's needed within these pages and not a word more.

His tale is told in two parts, by everyman narrator Tony Webster. The first part, comprising approximately a third of the book, reads like a coming-of-age story. It recounts the formative relationships of Tony's early life, both male and female, from his school days through early adulthood. We meet his closest friends, witness his earliest romances, and experience his first losses. This first section was good, but not great on its own.

The novella flowered in its second, longer part, set 40 years later. Now Tony is in his early 60's, amicably divorced, and a generally content man. One day, he receives notification of an unexpected and frankly bewildering bequest--which is then even more bewilderingly withheld. These contemporary happenings open windows to events of the past and Mr. Barnes held me rapt with the tale.

Despite the compelling plotline, go into this novella expecting it to be character-driven rather than plot-driven. In the end, the inheritance is a MacGuffin, and not really that important after all. It's the relationships of the characters that really tell this tale, and they are beautifully rendered.

Throughout the latter part of the story, Tony is told repeatedly (and without explanation, of course), "You just don't understand!" Well, he thought he did, and I thought he did. But it isn't until the very final lines of the novella that the full truth is made clear. The Sense of an Ending is brief, and it is masterful, and if it wins the Man Booker Prize in a few minutes, it will be entirely deserving.
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561 of 632 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars SPOILER ALERT! Did anyone get it? October 21, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Julian Barnes is a good writer, and it's not hard to forgive him for the fact that he has either overestimated the detecting abilities of his readers, or he has not made his case thoroughly even if he intends to be a bit mystifying.

Can anyone answer these questions? I would be so grateful!

(DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK!)

1) By the end of the novel we know that Adrian, in fact, is the father of Veronica's brother, who is mentally disabled in some way, and that his fatherhood may have had something to do with his suicide, or maybe nothing at all to do with it.

2) We know that Veronica's mother betrayed her own daughter, first to Tony, when she advised him not to let Veronica get away with too much, and then presumably with Adrian with whom she conceived a child.

3) We know that Tony believes that Veronica may have been abused by her father or brother as a child, but are we meant to think that, in fact, Veronica has been abused by her mother instead? Are we to believe that Veronica has systematically furnished her mother with young men over the years? Otherwise, why do Veronica and her brother and father go on an early-morning pre-breakfast walk the Saturday morning that Tony is at their house, leaving Tony and Veronica's mother alone? Is the whole family in on it? Does Veronica's mother want to have a child? Nothing untoward happens between them, except that Tony might have seemed rude or discouraging to her purposes when he cuts off a line of questioning about the nature of his and Veronica's relationship.

4) WHY does Veronica's mother leave 500 pounds to Tony? What does it mean when Veronica tells him that it's "blood money."

5) And, really?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars unforgettable
an unforgetable book by my favorite author
Published 23 hours ago by Stefan Michel
2.0 out of 5 stars A novel so short that it begs to be read in a single sitting AKA I'll...
The part where the narrator is being a wise ass while being driven around by the old flame was funny. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Paul A. Krueger
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant novel
Brilliant book, beautifully written and multi-layered. Complex psychological and philosophical themes.
Published 10 days ago by Carol A.Morrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Sense of an Ending
It's hard to describe the mood of the book, as it's written from the POV of an English schoolboy and then as his older self. Mistakes we make when we are young. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Steven R. Pollack
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, Funny, Honest
I want to read this book again, now that I have read it to the end. I have avoided reading other reviews of it so that my experience of it will be my own. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Gwen
5.0 out of 5 stars Have purchased more of his books now that I know what a great writer...
I was blown away by this book and its ending. Made my neighbor/friend read it so we could discuss the ending!!! Very unique plot; so well written. Read more
Published 14 days ago by poppy
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating
This book will resonate with anyone who's ever experienced the long lasting after-effects of unrequited love or obsession....
Published 15 days ago by happylark
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting and sometimes amusing reflections in the last third of a life. Insightful and amusing at times.
Published 19 days ago by Benjamin Nunez Fernandez
4.0 out of 5 stars An insightful and Unforgettable Character Study
An excellent character study from a number of age-based perspectives. The plot serves to highlight the issues faced by the characters in ways that resonate with those who have... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Jack Routledge
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfolds
A nice story that thoughtfully and slowly unfolds.
Published 22 days ago by Virginia Carlson
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More About the Author

Julian Barnes is the author of nine novels, including Metroland, Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters, England, England and Arthur and George, and two collections of short stories, Cross Channel and The Lemon Table.

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