“The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes

Sense of an endingWikipedia says:

The Sense of an Ending is a 2011 novel written by British author Julian Barnes. The book is Barnes’ eleventh novel written under his own name (he has also written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh) and was released on 4 August 2011 in the United Kingdom. The Sense of an Ending is narrated by a retired man named Tony Webster, who recalls how he and his clique met Adrian Finn at school and vowed to remain friends for life. When the past catches up with Tony, he reflects on the paths he and his friends have taken. In October 2011, The Sense of an Ending was awarded the Man Booker Prize. The following month it was nominated in the novels category at the Costa Book Awards.


We read this in March 2013.

Jills report of discussion by 11 people who attended our meeting:

Most people enjoyed this book even if only mildly and felt that it was fairly interesting as a study of the unreliability of memory. It was a short book and a fairly easy read while remaining for most a book that would not be long remembered. A couple of members felt that as soon as they finished they wanted to start again and several commented that they frequently found themselves going back to previous paragraphs to check their own memory.

Scores ranged from 4 to 10  with an average of just over 7.
There was a lot of conflict over members’ opinion of what had ‘really happened’ – who were the parents of the disabled child – conflict over both the possible mother and the father – what was meant by ‘you just don’t get it’, why Adrian killed himself, etc.  This all lead to what several members said was one of our better discussions.

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1 Comment

  1. malcolmbbc

     /  March 20, 2013

    Comment forwarded from Margaret:

    I enjoyed the discussion of the book and was sorry to leave before the end.
    I do think as Hilary and others said the book is about memory but I think it
    is also about the sense of importance that Ant/Tony feels that he has had in
    the personal history of the other characters.

    It came to my memory this morning that there were ideas in common with Iris
    Murdoch’s The Sea The Sea (which may also have won the booker some time
    ago). The main character in that book finds himself alone in later life and
    goes to meet up with people in his past on whom he felt he had had a big
    impact, including an old love. He is shocked to find that they hardly
    remember him and he had not been the great love of the woman whose life he
    thought he had ruined. He just was not important to these people.

    JB has written this book in a way in which we live our lives. It is open to
    interpretation by every reader (as our discussion showed) and given just
    enough to identify with some element to want to make our own sense of it. I
    thought it was an excellent book for discussion I think we got a lot out of
    it. (But maybe that is just my interpretation).


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