Tuesday, February 7

Book Review: The Sense of Ending

Title: The Sense of Ending

Author: Julian Barnes

Pages: (Ebook 150 pages)

Summary: This short, intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he never much thought about--until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he'd left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his career has delivered him into a secure retirement much as an amicable divorce has left him still fond of his ex-wife and daughter, who now has a family of her own. But suddenly Tony is presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he'd understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed the writing style, the deep examination of the human psyche and some of the philosophical thought this book explored, in the end it didn't work out for me.

The writing is top notch, I did enjoy that aspect of the book, it was hard to pull away from the book, because the author, for the most part, writing was well done. I could have dealt without a few descriptions, which I found disrupted the flow of the book, but the author is good at what he does.

The story itself intrigued me for the first half of the book. I thought it was a great idea of a man recalling how he grew up, trying to determine which was true memory and which wasn't - I loved the philosophy behind how even your own memories, ones that are important to you, can be, in a sense, incorrect or shifted from what truly happened. It was a very interesting theory. While I didn't care much for what happened in the main character's childhood, I did appreciate what the first half of the story brought to me as the reader. Then it all fell apart for me. I found the second half of the book, despite the fact it was so short, to be drawn out, and the drama between Tony and his girl friend from his teen years - to be wasteful. I grew bored quickly. The book seemed to lose what it was about, to create some kind of dramatic climax between Tony and his ex-girlfriend. The second half of the book also caused to really dislike the characters in the book, who as adults, were still acting like petty children for no real good reason. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't quite understand how Veronica's secret and reasoning for her actions were justified and kept so hidden, and I don't get Tony's need for her acceptance and revealing of her secrets.

In the end, the second half of the book didn't work out for me as I would have liked, and affected my overall experience with the book. It went from a very good book, to a mediocre one.

Would I recommend it to read: I think I still would. It's quality writing, the story was good enough. I found it fell apart near the end, but I think a lot of reader would enjoy the book.

What to read next: Not sure what I'd recommend, fellow Booker Prize winners, The Finkler Question and Offshore People, because all three have won the prize.

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge,


  1. I'm planning to read this one, so just let my eyes slip across your response; I've liked two others of his, and I hope I'll enjoy this one more than you did. *crosses bookish fingers*

    1. I hope you enjoy it when you get the chance - just didn't work for me.

  2. These types of books are sometimes so tough to recommend--and sometimes tough to read. I find I have to be in just the right mood. I've heard mixed things about this one but I'm glad it mostly worked for you! I didn't realize it was so short.

    1. Yes, they can be hard to recommend some times and I agree sometimes you just need to be in the right mood to appreciate what you're reading. I haven't seen much against the book, so it's interesting to see you've heard mixed things about it. Makes me happy to see I'm not the only one out there now.

  3. I read this a few weeks ago and feel the same way. It was very well written, and I think the beginning was intriguing. In the end, though, I was disappointed as well.

    1. Nice to see I'm not the only one who felt that way about the second half.