The Sense Of An Ending – Julian Barnes

sense of an endingREAD FOR BOOKERTHON

An English retiree challenges his fading memory with the arrival of a lawyer’s letter

✔ The unreliability of memories are often fictional fodder. Feeding out snippets of truths and half truths and making the reader work out who is reliable and who is not is a great way to engage the reader.

The Sense of an Ending is quite upfront about its unreliability. The protagonist, Tony Webster, has a reasonable life behind him and is nonplussed about ageing and his fading memories.

That is until he receives a lawyer’s letter informing him he has been left the diary of a man whom he barely recalls from his school days. He must search his memories, and learn what memories to trust, in a bid to understand why he has been left the diary.

How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.

The first part of this think book is about Tony’s younger years, his loves and lust and first marriage. All the “truths” are offered to the reader here. The second part of the book goes about undermining that information.

Rachel found it a nicely constructed novel. “I was totally invested in the fear of lost memories and constantly attempting to establish the truth.” However, despite the interesting premise, Suzy found the layers of truths and untruths messy and did not connect with the characters.

Published 2011
Jonathan Cape
163 pages

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