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The Sense of an Ending | [Julian Barnes]

The Sense of an Ending

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 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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)2011 AudioGO Ltd

What the Critics Say

“Elegant, playful, and remarkable.” (The New Yorker)

“A page turner, and when you finish you will return immediately to the beginning . . . Who are you? How can you be sure? What if you’re not who you think you are? What if you never were? . . . 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.” (The San Francisco Chronicle)

“Dense with philosophical ideas . . . it manages to create genuine suspense as a sort of psychological detective story . . . Unpeeling the onion layers of the hero’s life while showing how [he] has sliced and diced his past in order to create a self he can live with. (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

“Barnes seems equipped to write with humour and elegance about anything he turns his attention to” (Financial Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (835 )
5 star
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4.3 (702 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, United States 02-25-12
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, United States 02-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Memories vs Reality"
    Where does The Sense of an Ending rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Excellent. There were times I was moved to tears with the stark reality and honesty of the story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Challenor Australia 02-13-12
    Diane Challenor Australia 02-13-12 Member Since 2010

    Blogger of accidental discoveries through books

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An intriguing story"

    The narration of this story was just right and the story itself was intriguing. I enjoyed it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pepej24 Guadalajara, Mexico 02-06-12
    pepej24 Guadalajara, Mexico 02-06-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "Not deserving of the Booker Prize"

    I found the book dissapointing, having expected more of the Booker Prize selection. It is a failed attempt, uneven in its literary and narrative quality. The plot is very improbable, umrealistic and unbelievable. Compared to the many other Booker Prize winning novel of the past, I found it inferior.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Cliff, NM, United States 01-30-12
    Barbara Cliff, NM, United States 01-30-12 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
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    26
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    7
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    "Wow! Well written, well read!"

    How can a writer and a reader together make an aging man's musings about his failing memory be so compelling? I asked myself, as I continued listening to the very end. There is a mystery to be solved. Why DID his ex-girlfriend's mother bequeath him a small legacy and the diary of an old friend? And what does his ex mean by saying "you just don't get it", and a haunting line from the diary. The book felt really true about what it is like to be aging and find out things are not as you believed. Good one. Satisfying.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Penni St Andrews, Australia 01-27-12
    Penni St Andrews, Australia 01-27-12 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Priggish"
    Where does The Sense of an Ending rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    I am glad I listened to it on audio, because I'm not sure I could have finished this on the page. The narrator was fabulous, empathetic towards his character, thoughtful in his presentation and enhanced the experience. Having said that, I have had more satisfying audio experiences.


    Would you recommend The Sense of an Ending to your friends? Why or why not?

    Oh yes, but with caveats. I'd say, 'It's an easy read and a fabulous mediation on adolescence - in fact I related very strongly to the teenagers though the era was far earlier than my own coming of age decade. However [insert things here about anally retentive old men, depiction of female characters etc]


    Have you listened to any of Richard Morant???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but would seek others out.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I found the character of Adrian very resonant, I felt like I had met men like him before. I really found the first half compellingly real.


    Any additional comments?

    Sometimes it does a book (if not an author) a disservice to win a major award. I had in my head the whole time,

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 01-21-12
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 01-21-12 Member Since 2003

    glam

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    "The Sense of Narcissism"

    I wanted so much to like this book, but my plan didn't work. The writing is brilliant, but the female protagonist is ego-driven and self-involved in the extreme, and to what purpose? So there is a big family secret. So what? And why does that have to drive a person's life? The woman's posturing just adds up to a kind of narcissistic masochism, and it's annoying to read about. All she does is plunge the main character even more deeply into the post-adolescent angst from which he's come to be so relieved to finally escape.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHRISTINE Durham, NC, United States 12-18-11
    CHRISTINE Durham, NC, United States 12-18-11 Member Since 2009

    Art historian, gardener, feminist. Read for language, characters, history, esp. 18th c. History in US, France, GB, SE Asia, Caribbean.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Older Man rethinks love affair of his youth"
    If you could sum up The Sense of an Ending in three words, what would they be?

    the fallibility of memory


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The author, main character who tries to remember his past, but is is not sure of it. I could empathize with his plight.


    Have you listened to any of Richard Morant???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not listened to Richard Morant before, but I enjoyed his crisp diction and precise reading that seemed to suit the autobiographical narrative.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this pretty quickly. I usually like to listen to a book two or three times to really get it, especially if it is well written and there is a lot to think about.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Johannesburg, South Africa 11-26-11
    Dr. Johannesburg, South Africa 11-26-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "History ---the truth is subjective!"

    "History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meets the inadequacies of documentation" also "History is the bragging of the victor tempered by the delusions of the defeated". This is a wonderfully written and narrated book of Tony Webster's ordinary life recounted when he reaches retirement. It is intruiging and it keeps you guessing right until the last page with an unexpected ending! I will certain seek and read another Julian Barnes novel! Deserving of its Booker prize!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Houston, TX, United States 11-01-11
    Laurie Houston, TX, United States 11-01-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Excellent Read"

    This book deserved the Booker Man Award it received. Very thought provoking with an interesting twist at the end.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian C Robertson South Australia, Australia 06-12-14
    Ian C Robertson South Australia, Australia 06-12-14 Member Since 2010

    Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Deservedly Praised"

    These days we are all skeptical. This includes our perception of literary awards. Once upon a time, a prestigious award like the MAN Booker (then the Booker) would have been a strong recommendation to read and own a novel. Now I sometimes regard it as a forewarning! Accordingly, the last two awards of that famous prize have been a pleasant return to the old form.
    In this deservedly praised novel Barnes achieves the rare feat of capturing a time and place. Actually, it's not so much A time or A place as capturing the state of mind that, I suspect, 90% of his listeners have visited or inhabited sometime in their lives. That place and time seemed very familiar to me although the plot line and my experience is quite different. I think this is a rare gift of insight.
    I won't delve into the plot because its unfolding is a pleasure, a surprise and a joy. It made me wince and smile, in turns. Also, the book is blessedly short. Oh for the return of the short novel. Bravo!
    The late Richard Morant's reading was very good, too. It completely suited the text and the principals. It took me a while to stop thinking of Julian Clary (because Morant has, for some reason, a Surrey accent), but that wasn't much of a distraction.
    Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 96 results PREVIOUS12310NEXT
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  • Charlton Siddo
    London, Essex United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "How did this book win any awards?"

    I listened to this book with anticipation but was really disappointed. Alot of it was hype. I didn't really care much for the characters and the ending was contrived. It came across more like a TV episode of some detective show. Couldn't he have made the characters more interesting? Only Veronica Ford stands out as a character.I think someone should have told the author than books have been written to be read. Because I paid for the download I had to force myself to finish the book otherwise I'd have stopped listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gemma
    Shipley, United Kingdom
    4/8/13
    Overall
    "Great narrator"

    Great narration of an interesting story. I enjoyed how the protagonist explored relationships from his past and was intrigued to find out why.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kirsty
    Bolton, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Great book with good narration"

    I really enjoyed this book, and found the narration to be suited to the style of writing, which is often not the case with audio books. The book won many prizes and although is not the style I would normally read I thought I would give it a try, I was not disappointed. The book is written very well explaining the stories and lives of the individual characters without creating boredom. But the book makes you think and that is why I have given it five stars. So many books I read leave me wanting something else, but this one is different and definitely worth giving a go. Great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Simon
    Worcester, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Amazing"

    Just buy this and settle down for a couple of hours. Don't read a synopsis as it will ruin it. Just indulge yourself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    Wakefield, United Kingdom
    9/24/12
    Overall
    "Beautifully crafted story"

    I don't get time to read many books but this turned out to be a superb choice. Its well written with an engaging story and really underlines the unreliable nature of memory and perception of what is happening around you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • iwo
    hammersmith, United Kingdom
    6/3/12
    Overall
    "No Sense at all"

    I am sorry but this is not a great book and I did not like it at all, the exploration of remorse is not a good idea for a book as it's a boring subject matter. Written well, the word-smith is very good but the story is lacking and I was left disappointed by the whole thing. The beginning promised so much and the ending did not deliver, but the narrator was great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bhavna_AL1
    Newark, United Kingdom
    3/8/12
    Overall
    "Beautiful book"

    Its a beautiful book , very nicely read. I enjoyed reading this book. I recommend this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • w
    east horsley, United Kingdom
    11/7/11
    Overall
    "good"

    Enjoyed it but maybe expected a little more.Wasn't really gripping as expected as a booker prize winner. Still very enjoyable listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nicholas
    GRANGE OVER SANDS, United Kingdom
    9/9/11
    Overall
    "Superb narration"

    The narration on this audiobook is so good that I started to worry that it was taking over my 'reading' of the book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-19 of 19 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

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