Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse. This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has 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 marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then 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. A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes's oeuvre.
At once commanding and subtle, Barnes has created a refined novel intensely suspenseful in its emotional complexities and exemplary in its arresting tropes, rhythms, revelations, and musings on the puzzle of time and the mysteries of memory and desire. And how masterfully Barnes induces us, page by page, to revise our perceptions of and feelings toward his ensnared narrator. Cordially divorced and smugly retired, Tony is yanked out of complacency by a perplexing letter. The recently deceased mother of his disastrous first love has inexplicably bequeathed him the diary of a school friend of his who committed suicide. As Tony seeks an explanation, Barnes turns evocative motifs--the way Tony and his friends wore their watches with the faces on the inside of their wrists; the night Tony witnessed the Severn Bore, a powerful tidal surge that reverses the river's flow--into metaphors for how we distort the past and how oblivious we are to the pain of others. Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Barnes' sublimely modulated and profoundly disquieting tale of delusion, loss, and remorse ends devastatingly with a crescendo twist. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Barnes is a British author Americans follow with high attention, and this novel secured him the Man Booker Prize.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review
In Barnes's (Flaubert's Parrot) latest, winner of the 2011 Man-Booker Prize, protagonist Tony Webster has lived an average life with an unremarkable career, a quiet divorce, and a calm middle age. Now in his mid-60s, his retirement is thrown into confusion when he's bequeathed a journal that belonged to his brilliant school-friend, Adrian, who committed suicide 40 years earlier at age 22. Though he thought he understood the events of his youth, he's forced to radically revise what he thought he knew about Adrian, his bitter parting with his mysterious first lover Veronica, and reflect on how he let life pass him by safely and predictably. Barnes's spare and luminous prose splendidly evokes the sense of a life whose meaning (or meaninglessness) is inevitably defined by "the sense of an ending" which only death provides. Despite its focus on the blindness of youth and the passage of time, Barnes's book is entirely unpretentious. From the haunting images of its first pages to the surprising and wrenching finale, the novel carries readers with sensitivity and wisdom through the agony of lost time. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
When we look back on our lives, what do we remember from our experiences? Tony's story starts and finishes with his school chums, one of whom commits suicide during his college years, and his first girlfriend. When he is contacted by someone from 40 years in his past, he must reexamine events, memories, causes, and results. The pacing is steady and the insights poignant, although the ending is a bit contrived. Narrator Richard Morant moves smoothly between the awkward, loud voice of an English schoolboy, the all-knowing college student, and the resigned elder. VERDICT Barnes's 14th book and winner of the Man Booker Prize, this short novel will best appeal to readers of introspective literature. [The Knopf hc, published in October, was a New York Times best seller.-Ed.]-J. Sara Paulk, Wythe-Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Julian Barnes was born in Leicester, England, on January 19, 1946. He received a degree in modern languages from Magdalen College, Oxford University in 1968. He has held jobs as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary, a reviewer and literary editor for the New Statesmen and the New Review, and a television critic. He has written numerous works of fiction including Metroland, which won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1980, Flaubert's Parrot, which won both the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1985 and a Prix Medicis in 1986, England, England, Arthur and George, Pulse: Stories, and The Sense of an Ending, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2011. He also writes non-fiction works including Letters from London, The Pedant in the Kitchen, and Nothing to Be Frightened Of. He received the Shakespeare Prize by the FVS Foundation in 1993, the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2004, and the David Cohen Prize for Literature in 2011. He writes detective novels under the pseudonym Dan Kavanaugh. His works under this name include Duffy, Fiddle City, Putting the Boot In, and Going to the Dogs. (Bowker Author Biography)