Book Reviews

The Sense of An Ending – Julian Barnes (Book Review)

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Title : The Sense of An Ending

Author : Julian Barnes

Man Booker Prize (2011)

Standalone

Genre : Adult, Literary Fiction


Summary

Goodreads summary :

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.

General Thoughts

It’s not every day that you pick up a book as short as under 200 pages, and turn the last page feeling so heavily moved and surprised. It’s not everyday that you come across a book which compels you to think every few pages, as much as this book made me do. With the depth hidden in its pages, and the ambiguity and uncertainity riddled in evry single thing which happens, this book is both thought-provoking and intriguing, and is well worth your time.

Pros

1. Character-driven bookThis is hugely a character-driven book, and the book is pulled forward by the development and structuring of the characters. The characters make the book alive, and I loved how slowly and slowly, different facets of each character are revealed, and those facets itself take the story forwards. And, I love character-driven books, so this book was amazing to read.

2. Extremely thought-provokingBeing a literary fiction, this book was bound to pick up some serious issues, and some of the thoughts and musings of the protagonist hit you right in the chest. This is a book, which, in quite a few places, makes you stop and give things in your life a thoughtand it’s a wonder when books can do that. I have to admit, some of it did go over my head, but overall it was wonderful. Also, the basic concept of the book – memory – and how as life goes on, the only thing you have is memory and how often memory goes wrong, is a wonderful concept to base a book on. The book being centered around the ambiguity of human memory was extremely well thought-out and the author did an excellent job.

3. Compelling and ShortVery few books can pull me in from the very first paragraph. It’s an amazing reading experience, when you start a book and within minutes, you are engrossed, and you know that this is going to be a good book. This book was extremely compelling, in the sense that you wouldn’t want to stop reading it. It may not be a mystery filled with crazy twists, but it was engrossing in a way much deeper. Something just made me move on to the next line right after finishing a paragraph every single time. Also, for a book which is just 150 pages long, it packs a punch, and you leave the book affected. Basically, it makes a mark.

5. Uncertainity of the protagonistBeing based on memory, and how memory changes with time, we come to know about halfway through the book that the narrator is extremely unreliable. The latter half of the book is filled with shocking things which contradict so much of what he said before, and this just further brings out the theme of unreliability of human memory.  However, instead of having a negative effect, I found the uncertainity of the protagonist to be exciting, and it pretty much kept me on the edge of my seat, and well-prepared for the shocks to come at the end.

Cons

1. Unlikeable charactersThe characters are really bad characters. I mean, characterization wise, the author has done a brilliant job, sketching the characters well and developing them by revealing their traits and nuances one by one. But the main characters? They are really disturbing characters with some issues. If you read books looking for a character to love or swoon over, you probably won’t get much here.

2. Plot-line is shortIf you’re a reader who doesn’t enjoys character-driven books, and looks for a proper plot in everything – this book (at least the first half) will be pretty disappointing to you. The plot does pick up in the second half of the book, but essentially, the characters and their stories are given an upper hand.

Recommend to?

Anyone looking for a short, thoughtful, surprising book

A ‘good book’ or a ‘good read’?

A great book. A very compeeling read.

My Rating

4.25/5 stars

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3 thoughts on “The Sense of An Ending – Julian Barnes (Book Review)

  1. I loved this book. I think I’ll read it again :) Julian Barnes is one of my favorite authors, anyway. Reading Love, Etc. at the moment–which is the sequel to Talking It Over. Nice books, both of them–but so unlike The Sense of An Ending (the latter being much more terse and compacted).

    Liked by 1 person

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