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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes | Book Review

“The sense of and Ending” is in news with its fetching the 2011 booker prize for its writer, Julain Barnes. This short novella has finally achieved for him what his previous works could not, inspite of repeated nominations.

Boook : The Sense Of An Ending
Author : Julian Barnes
Publisher : Jonathan Cape (2011),Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (10/2011), and Others

The storyline is very straight and short. Tony Webster, a man living alone in his sixties, having decent savings, divorced yet friendly wife, a daughter with her own family, in short an everyday picture of such man as you would encounter at hospital doing some charity work. The story comprises of what Tony is telling us about his school days, his friends Alex, Callen and Adrian Finn through his memories. The spark that brought these memories back being a letter from the lawyers executing the will of Mrs. Sarah Ford. She has left Adrian’s diary for Tony. Common circumstances, isn’t it?

Not really, what makes it unusual is that Sarah Ford was Tony’s ex-girlfriend Veronica’s mother, that Adrian and Veronica were together after her breaking-up with Tony and that Adrian had committed suicide. Adrian’s suicide note was made public at his own last request, wherein he claimed to have committed suicide on the philosophical ground that: “Life is a gift unsought for, and every being has a right to return what he never asked for”. When Tony hears after all these years of that suicide that Adrian left a diary, he is determined to have it, but its in Veronica’s possession and she would not part with it.

After a lot of e-mails and a few meetings with Veronica, Tony finally learns the truth about Adrian’s suicide. But that’s not the aim of this story, it is not a suspense thriller. The book discusses more about memories and truth. What are memories? A recording in our mind stored under the headings of a few persons we have lived with? And when we think about them, the reel just plays itself. But, its not objective, is it? More often than not, two persons have different memories of the same event they went through together. Our memories are our echos to what life presented us with and our perceptions of people and incidents. So many times, we see only what we want to see, hear only what we want to hear, wilfully misunderstanding others, because it suits us.


When we are young, bubbling with energy to resolve the mystery called life, full of ambitions and hopes, our entire thinking is about future. But, as life passes on, we surrender to it, take it its own course, just flow on with the current only to awake with the sense of remorse and loss when there is no way of bringing the lost time back or reversing our actions. Age plays with memories, alters them, keeping only impressions that suit with our present. We unconsciously forget what we don’t want to connect ourselves with in this present. And in this book, we journey with Tony in his past and present, learning all these as he learns it.

The best part about the book is its not being so complexly constructed as to baffle your mind forcing it to make connections like many of the past booker prize winners. As the judges rightly said, the book is easily “readable”. So, Enjoy………….

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