Amy Reads Books

The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes With the Man Booker longlist of this year being released earlier this week, it feels like good timing to read last years winner; which has to have one of the prettiest covers ever. The Sense of an Ending is a short book, only around 150 pages.The novel takes place entirely in the head of Tony, a middle-aged man who has lived a somewhat unremarkable life. He appears pretty happy with his lot, and even remains on good terms with his ex-wife, Margaret. The fact that Tony is fairly unremarkable could have made him really uninteresting as a narrator, but to me it made him pretty engaging, and even relatable. Most people live fairly ordinary lives and are not out to cause great pain to others, and Tony reflects this.The Sense of an Ending deals primarily with memory and the past, and how these two can really be totally different. I think most people have a habit of blocking out certain memories in order to make their lives easier, and that is certainly something that Tony is guilty of. As he discusses his past, at first it seems like a fairly typical 1960s boys school experience followed by university with a fairly mean girlfriend in the shape of Veronica and then the standard drifting apart of teenage friends. However, the introduction of the letter mentioned in the summary leads to a whole re-examination of Tony's memory of the past, his relationship with Veronica and how our actions affect others. It also has something to say about our perceptions about people; how frequently people always associate others with a certain personality trait and refuse to see them in a different light.I will say that this novel is a relative slow burn, for about the first half of the novel I was meandering through it but wondering why it had so much hype around it. However, the final reveal over the last few pages really shifts the entire novel; and makes you reconsider pretty much everything you just read. This is really a testament to Barnes' writing, as you find yourself trusting Tony that having something knock the reader's perception of him, really knocks your reading of the book as a whole. I'm quite tempted to re-read it fairly soon with the ending in mind to try and search for clues as I read.I really recommend this, it's a very accessible and interesting novel. Hopefully, this year's winner will be as good.