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)2014 Audible, Inc.
“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)
Excellent. There were times I was moved to tears with the stark reality and honesty of the story.
Blogger of accidental discoveries through books
The narration of this story was just right and the story itself was intriguing. I enjoyed it.
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.
Say something about yourself!
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.
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.
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]
No, but would seek others out.
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.
Sometimes it does a book (if not an author) a disservice to win a major award. I had in my head the whole time,
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.
Art historian, gardener, feminist. Read for language, characters, history, esp. 18th c. History in US, France, GB, SE Asia, Caribbean.
the fallibility of memory
The author, main character who tries to remember his past, but is is not sure of it. I could empathize with his plight.
I have not listened to Richard Morant before, but I enjoyed his crisp diction and precise reading that seemed to suit the autobiographical narrative.
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.
"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!
This book deserved the Booker Man Award it received. Very thought provoking with an interesting twist at the end.
if you enjoyed " The Remains of the Day" you will certainly enjoy "The Sense of an Ending". Few authors can make the mathematics of philosophy nor the personal effects of historiography interesting, but Julian Barnes accomplishes it. Richard Morant provides an excellent narration.
"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.
I didn't really enjoy this book. It was well read by Richard Morant, whose voice fitted the story perfectly, but I found the story very pleased with itself and not at all enjoyable. All the characters were thoroughly unpleasant and the way that they spoke intentionally, and therefore irritatingly, pretentious. I wouldn't recommend this one at all.
"I have never read a book like it!"
There are 3 sides to every story (yours, mine and the truth). This is a gripping look at life, interpretation and consequences.
"Truth is a mirror shattered and thrown each piece believes the picture full to be its own".
"Disappointing but vivid"
Also shorter than I'd thought. The ending blind-sided me. I like to like one or other of the central characters, but found all these characters too fond of intellectualising and frosty judgementalising. Are all Barnes's later novels like this?
But the descriptions of teenage lust and love were fabulous. That flopping durex will remain with me for a long time...!
I listened at one sitting to this (or rather one ironing session!). It was extraordinary - nuanced, subtle and prismatic. At the end I had a real "sense of an ending" but of beginning a new way of looking at things like memory, for the narrator but also for me.
I got this as a daily deal on Audible so it was only roughly £2, but now I've listened, I'd happily have paid the full price.
My only reason for a 4-star performance rating was the occasionally eccentric pronunciation. The most puzzling example was denier - one who denies - pronounced as in 15-denier stockings!
The writing of this story is simply beautiful. I finished it in two listens as it drew me in from the first sentence. I don't think I have thought so much before about the pictures we paint or the stories we tell ourselves, of our own life and events in it over the years. Especially not whilst listening to a fictional book anyway. It's been in my library for a while and I put off reading it but now am taken aback with its depth and insight and feel it is a gem amongst all of my books.
An excellent short listen. A discussion on the nature of time, memory and history wrapped in a very well written and read story. How accurate are our memories, what do we choose not to see and remember? What is history? How we juggle our memories like a kaleidoscope to form different patterns and meanings. And a very good story as well weaving backwards and forwards through the protagonist's life. Highly recommended.
"Brilliant writing, read perfectly"
Having read this book a couple of years ago I decided to revisit it by listening to the audiobook. I wasn't disappointed, the reading is pitch perfect and does the book proud. This is now established as one of my favourite books.
"A poetic mystery love story"
I remember seeing Julian Barnes interviewed on TV once, talking about his book, "The sense of an ending", and I was thinking "wow, I want to read that one day!". And now I have and all I can say is "wow, I'm so glad I bought it on Audible!" Because it is a wonderful, powerful, poetic story about a man's life, which leaves you wanting more after you have finished it. And that's what good books should do. The plot is bizarre, yet uncomplicated (when you (like the main character Tony) finally get it). The narrator is the perfect choice. All in all, it is a book well worth a credit, if you enjoy deeper leveled novels.
"An extraordinary tale of spite subtly described"
This was a very profound book narrated in a very matter-of-fact tone. I wondered if the telling was bland until I realized that the main character was being shown as a very average chap who bumbled through life. I think it would be impossible to describe such an outwardly simple story and give it justice. I would thoroughly recommend this book as a thoughtful and reflective read.
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