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The Sense of an Ending
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The Sense of an Ending [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

by Julian Barnes (Author), Richard Morant (Narrator)
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,046 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2011

The powerful, unsettling, and beautifully crafted new novel from one of England's greatest contemporary writers.

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour, and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove.

The Sense of an Ending is the story of one man coming to terms with the mutable past. Laced with trademark precision, dexterity, and insight, it is the work of one of the world's most distinguished writers.

A complete and unabridged reading by Richard Morant.

©2011 Julian Barnes; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 4 hours and 40 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Release Date: August 4, 2011
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,046 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
382 of 409 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
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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634 of 696 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, I didn't get it either October 18, 2011
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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553 of 623 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!


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 Good story.
Very well written. Good story.
Published 2 days ago by Marilyn Macdonald
4.0 out of 5 stars Elegant in the simplicity of its prose.
But the simplicity is deceptive. The narrative is compelling as it brings us deeper and deeper into exploring the human condition, how our memories rewrite our history, and how... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Lady O
1.0 out of 5 stars A Sense of an Ending -- Not Worth Beginning
A SENSE OF AN ENDING - Not Worth Beginning
by Julian Barnes

A Sense of an Ending ("Ending") is titled appropriately, as it forewarns of the dark pall that it will... Read more
Published 8 days ago by BookAWeekMan
4.0 out of 5 stars A Philosophical Deconstruction of Memory
The Sense of an Ending is a recounting of a retired mans life, a sifting through of his former relationships. It is beautifully written and very insightful. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Neil Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Essay A brilliant essay about the human condition
A Brilliant Essay
A brilliant essay about the human condition. About a man and his relationships - as a youthful student and as a husband and father, about memory and loss and... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Judy Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars It had a strange start and felt oddly written.
It had a strange start and felt oddly written. But it picked up and it keep me hanging on the ending was worth it
Published 15 days ago by Jade Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you with many questions- fun for a book group
a fascinating read. Leaves you with many questions- fun for a book group discussion
Published 16 days ago by Nancy Ruddle
4.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyed it!
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is a story told by Anthony Webster. He begins the story in his youth with a close-knit group of three friends. Read more
Published 23 days ago by forkdora
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumphs over most short fictions
Definitely a page-turner. I relished every single sentence in this book. It provides with something to think about in a deeper, much more meaningful context.
Published 24 days ago by Jenny
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparse, beautiful prose
This is a short book (novella?) but it contains great emotion. It is a compelling account of a man who looks back upon his life and is unimpressed. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Peter Richardson
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