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The Sense of an Ending Paperback – May 29, 2012
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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“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
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read 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.
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great look into life as we see it. We like to make our own histories without thought to the other side of things. Beautifully written.Published 20 hours ago by Sam Lawrence
IN MY OPINION THE BEST OF THE BOOK IS AT PAGE 159. THE FUNNY STORY ABOUT "HAND-CUT CHIPS" AND MAYBE HERE IS
THE MEANING AND THE CORE OF THE BOOK.
Very intense book.. Poor Tony, He just did not get it. Veronica did not love him. She hated him. She just used him. The Mother did not love him. The Father did not love him. Read morePublished 5 days ago by G. Vausher
Interesting. Any book that causes me to consider the logical ramifications of suicide is certainly worth reading. (Yes, I liked it immensely. From the grave and back. Hehe.)Published 5 days ago by David Douglas
I loved the introspective nature of the novel. The author plays with the fragility of memory and the notion that the way you remember events happened isn't necessarily true. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Ana Maria Orellana
Do you find dark, brooding books rewarding? Do you find flawed males, trapped inside themselves, sympathetic? Read morePublished 11 days ago by Kaui
my favorite book ever. there's one science error in the book that I caught (pretty major one at that), but I'll let it slide because it's my favorite bookPublished 11 days ago by Z
Love the way Julian Barnes writes as his style is awesome and his content thought provoking.Published 14 days ago by Jewels36