"The tongue like a sharp knife, kills without drawing blood." Budha
In 150 pages, about 4.5 hrs listening, Barnes--nothing less than a word wielding genius--has written a poignant little novel that packs a big psychological punch, wherein every perfectly placed word evokes powerful images and thoughts. [Refers to Henry VIII as the "polygamist royal butcher".] (*No doubt there will be philosophical discussions longer than this book about this book.) But, my lovely journey with this petite gem didn't start out so lovingly...
Having read a few award winners in my time, I plugged in my earbuds and waited to be wowed while I indulged in the luxury afforded to us with audible books--multi-tasking. Two-thirds the way through this book I was about to toss it. Yes, the writing was masterful, the characters, though only briefly sketched out were still relevant and interesting, but the story itself seemed whiny and pretentious, overall depressing to the point of being a tiresome listen. But, In just a few words, I suddenly went from irritated to intrigued; ultimately I was awed and regretted an ending, so I listened again. I really listened. I sat down and this time was absorbed in the luxury of writing at its best. I've read the 6 books shortlisted for the Booker--my opinion is they got it right.
Like one character says in the book, this is "like an onion and reveals itself in layers"--the reader is dropped in to walk along and sense this experience, not be wowed by a complex plot, not to have the mysteries neatly explained. Sleek, eloquent, precise, and Richard Morant is an articulate narrator that heightens the experience. I went to the book store and bought a copy. It's with me still, on my book shelf and etched in my mind.
I come from Ireland, went to college in the States, and now live and work in Japan.
The middle-aged narrator is living in fairly comfortable retirement, divorced from his wife, and filling his time with virtuous but hardly strenuous pursuits when he receives an unexpected solicitor's letter informing him of a delayed bequest from the long-dead mother of a college friend. Difficulties ensue, and this brings him back in contact with an old girlfriend from the 1960s. The story unravels slowly with some fine and rather wicked social observations, leading to a surprise ending which I must confess I found initially rather difficult to understand. The narration is excellent and the writing is finely-honed and dryly intelligent as one has come to expect from Julian Barnes. He does this sort of thing less brashly than Martin Amis and slightly better than Ian McEwan.
Can a 4 and a half hour book ever be referred to as a "tour de force" -oxymoron isn't it? Well this one can as far as I'm concerned. The writing is crisp and clever and the story intriguing. Filling in the details is left to the mind of the creative listener. This creativity is an aspect I enjoyed for a change having listened recently to wonderful epics by Martin, Follet, Courtney and Gabaldon where filling in the blanks is seldom required. I highly recommend this book and encourage listeners, especially those who might be put off by its brevity, to give it a try.
This was a very short book. Clever, and loved the ending. That's what kept me going..... the ending, and what it would be. Nothing I suspected, and that in itself was satisfying. I enjoy the quirky sense of humour the author interjected. Parts of it made me laugh out loud. Good when you just need a short book, well written!
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for best fiction, The Sense of an Ending is a compact, deliberate, and extremely thoughtful story of the blind spots we all have when it comes to viewing our own actions, flaws...and perhaps even our own emotions.
We meet Tony at a point in his life when everything seems tidy and settled; his raised his daughter, retired from his work, and forged a friendly and supportive relationship with his ex-wife. He seems satisfied and proud that his life is well sorted, and that there are no loose ends or unfinished business he'd be leaving behind if the end was to come. He prizes and relies on this orderly world he believes he has created.
When a delivery from a lawyer arrives, with a message from a very unexpected source, he's forced to question the reality of his "tidy world". We watch his emotions grow from surprise, to curiosity, to (perhaps) obsession. We watch Tony learn that perceptions and memory can be misleading; and through this, we receive the lesson ourselves.
This book isn't for people that like their endings tied with a bow. Readers are given all the information needed to piece together what actually transpired all those years ago; but just like our main character, it's your job to finish putting the puzzle together.
The story does deal with adult content; you won't want to listen to this one in the car with your kids around. That said, it's a striking work with phenomenal narration, and I'm still thinking about it days after I finished.
Densely short and shockingly subliminal...this book is one of the finest I have read for plot and narration. The reader and the plot seem meant for each other.
A terrific novel that is wonderfully read in this audio version. The nuance of Barnes writing is beautifully conveyed and the characterizations are taught and believable.
It's a meandering tale about a bunch of school chaps who like each other and really are over-awed by one of their members who later comes to a sticky end. And the details of this sticky end are confined to the last few pages leaving it to the reader to fill in the blanks, which isn't too hard. Turns out, their idol had feet of clay. Don't want to be too specific and give away the ending, but the whole book seems to culminate in those last few pages.
The little blurb out this book you get before buying it doesn't really have much to do with the story. The story was just interesting enough to keep me listening to the end, which had an unexpected twist. The main character's ex-girlfriend keeps telling him "You just don't get it. You never did." I have to admit that I didn't get it either.
The writer is clearly skilled but the actual ending of this story was just not worth the effort. An unsympathetic protaganist and a pointless end. The reviews misled me but maybe someone saw something in this that I sure didn't.