06 January, 2014
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes [Emma, Birkenhead Library]
Tony Webster is taken back to his past and memories of his friend Adrian who committed suicide many years ago when he receives a lawyer's letter from an old girlfriend's mother. This begins his recollections of his schooldays, his first girlfriend, and his friends.
Gradually Tony tells his version of the past happenings as they relate to these people, and thus we are brought to his present. He meets his ex-girlfriend who is still an enigma to him. She scathingly says, "you didn't get it then, and you don't now"... but she annoyingly never tells him anything straight out. So not until the final pages does he work out how his past actions could have changed the present in ways he wouldn't have ever thought they could.
You can't help but be sympathetic to Tony, who seems like a pretty nice, fairly ordinary kind of guy who becomes dogged in his determination uncover the events of the past. His retells his story in an understated way, yet it retains your interest because of the ideas he explores. Personal history, memory, and one's story of one's own past can take on a different light if we are given even a little more information...thus he seeks, and finds, the sense of an ending for himself...
This book won the Man Booker Prize 2011.
Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Publisher: London : Jonathan Cape, 2011.