Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2011
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, rumor, 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.
©2011 AudioGO (P)2011 Julian Barnes
“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)
Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, The Sense of an Ending is a short, haunting novel of remembrance and remorse by the celebrated English writer, Julian Barnes. The first person narrator is Tony Webster, a retired manager, divorced and alone, rather self-absorbed and passive, a man of reduced expectations whose life is suddenly upended when he is willed the diary of a close friend, Adrian, who had committed suicide in his early twenties. Though Adrian came from a rung lower in the middle class than Tony, he was brilliant and charismatic, clearly destined for something great. But while studying philosophy at Cambridge, Adrian had hung himself, leaving behind an existential explanation for having made this choice. Adrian, however, had also stolen away Tony's enigmatic and manipulative girlfriend, Veronica, not long before his death. Back then, Tony had sent Adrian a bitter epistle cursing the new couple, then Tony had gotten on with his own life--a brief, hippy adventure in America, a cog-in-a machine job back in England, a non-enigmatic wife who eventually leaves him for a restaurant owner, a daughter, and finally single life in a tidy flat, volunteering at the hospital, a glass of wine a night and a week in Spain each winter, just treading water until the final curtain closes. And then, Veronica's mother--with whom Tony once felt a strange sympathy--dies and inexplicably leaves Tony 500 pounds and Adrian's diary. The first half of the novel consists of a long flashback of Tony's youth and his relationship with Adrian and Veronica; the second half involves Tony's efforts to get his hands on the diary, which Veronica, whom he hasn't seen in over forty years, doesn't want to hand over. The narrative pull becomes stronger as Tony undergoes a quest to recover the diary, find out what was going on in Adrian's mind before his death, and perhaps to even rekindle a flame with Veronica. Smaller mysteries, give way to larger ones, and ultimately to a shattering truth. Though I found some of Tony's philosophical musings on the nature of life a little tedious, his character comes fully alive and the story itself is deeply compelling.
Yes, there were so many good lines and thoughts. I actually bought the book after listening just to reread the many great thoughts.
I loved the beauty of the story--aging and endings--and the way the reader brought it to life.
He reads in a slow and melodic way..perfect match to the flow of the story.
It made me think!
LOVE this selection.
If I had a friend who was interested in reading this book, I'd say go for it. It's interesting in its character development and plot. But I wouldn't recommend someone go out of their way for it. The reading was fine -- it didn't add or detract from the experience.
Very near the top
The Painted Veil
A British accent
A bit of a slow start, but after the first few minutes almost impossible to stop listening. Stirring, genuine, thought provoking.
The Sense of an Ending: A Novel didn't really have a sense of an ending for me. However, I recommend it to every Audible listener. It makes you think about your life and your memories. You begin to wonder just how much historical revisionism you have applied to your own life.
Introspective, sad, eye opening
This book made me think of Martin Amis books but it was much easier to understand and relate to. The atmosphere makes this book and the lead character is completely believable. It is this easy and intimate relationship one feels with the main character that makes the book so interesting and then makes the reader examine her/his own life and the stories we tell ourselves.
Tony - the main character - carries the book.
When the main character is told that he never got it and he never will, it leaves him and the reader desperately trying to figure out what is there to be gotten. Once the reality becomes clear, the reader has the urge to go back and re-read. The delusion of the main character is the delusion of the reader.
Yes it was very engaging and makes you think about the nature of memory and thought
the many surprising plot developments and the reflections on memory
His awesome accent. I started thinking in a British accent after my commute.
It didn't make me cry but it was very thought provoking about a number of topics- suicide, memory, how we justify our own actions, our life story, growing older, and many more
Cunningly and painfully insightful
The structure. Barnes plays the same tricks of the human psyche on the reader touching deeply and devilishly into it.
Beautiful. While I would have loved a change of voice for each character, the somber one voice he read with has its charm and goes along with the novel's mood.
Remembering to Forget
The novel is short, yet is packed with a whole world of emotions and quite some surprises. The writing is wonderful and the insights are deep and invigorating.
Within the 150 or so pages of this novel, Barnes packs a man's life! In listening to the book narrated by Richard Morant, I felt I developed a better understanding of the main character Tony Webster. He is not a likeable man. A careful listen helped me see more clearly the failings of this man and his inability to "get it".
This was not a fast moving story but it comes together in a way that leaves you thinking about it after it is over. The British accent of the male narrator got on my nerves but that is just a personal thing. I would reccomend it.
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