The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

This slim novel is the book I read for my Third Tuesday Book Club meeting tomorrow (March 15th, 2016); in fact, it is the selection that I picked for this year. It is a marvelous book about time, memory, and assumptions, and I am happy to have read it (it won the Man Booker Prize in 2011).

Anthony West, as the story begins, is now in his mid-sixties in southern England; he has lived a very ordinary life, and, as such, he has something of a selective memory regarding things that did not deeply stick in his memory at the time. For reasons that will eventually come clear, he devotes Part One of his story to telling us what he recalls (or remembers recalling, with some fuzzy degree of accuracy) of Adrian Finn, whom he and his two friends met while at the English equivalent of high school in the 1960s. Tony duly graduates, and at university he enters into an unsatisfactory relationship with Veronica, a relationship that lasts about one year, with one weekend visit to her family, and ends rather badly.

Part Two of the story, after Tony has brought us up to speed as to what he remembers about Adrian and Veronica from forty years ago, with the rest of his life afterwards related rather quickly, deals with an odd event that brings both Adrian and Veronica to mind. What Tony remembers is not always what happened, and the assumptions that he and other characters make is crucial to the book.

This book is a deceptively calm book, and one that I will enjoy discussing at our Third Tuesday Book Club meeting.

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