Sense of an Ending, The

Barnes, Julian

  14 Reviews

Tony Webster is considering the fickle nature of memory; now retired, he is pondering the course of his life. When a lawyer's letter arrives out of the blue, he is transported back 40 years to when he and his coterie of friends were callow youths, and he'd had his first girlfriend, Veronica. Prompted by the unexpected inheritance from Veronica's mother, Tony examines these memories, uncertain of their veracity.

A clever and thought-provoking read awash with philosophical musings, tempered with English reserve. Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2011. [Larger font]

Comments from Groups

Enjoyed by all members but much discussion on understanding parts of the book! Nelson 009

Most enjoyed this book ...many were confused regarding the timing of events and validity of apportioning blame for long ago events. Many of us revisited out own relationships during those heady student days. Rich discussion! Auckland 063

Excellent writer. Group not sure quite what the author was getting at with the story. However, our evening was full of ideas and discussion. Havelock North 005

We had the best discussion, and all because of the ambiguous ending. There was much discussion, argument (all good-natured), theories postulated and much hilarity...It is a short, yet satisfying, and easy to read. The writing is clever and thoughtful. Christchurch 001

We all had a lot of unanswered questions - maybe we needed to read it again? But it kept us enthralled with its strange twists. Hamilton 014

Very differing views - from totally forgettable to totally intriguing and enjoyable. Some people read it twice and got the full meaning of the book. Nelson 015



AUCK 009
Opinions were divided - quite strongly! Half of us loved it and almost as many disliked it. But all agreed that it was beautifully written. It seemed to be the content that some found challenging.
CHCH 357
Those who enjoyed the book loved it - thought the writing clever and thought provoking. Others found it boring, didn't quite "get" a sense of story and didn't enjoy the second half at all.
WELL 213
Brilliant but opaque!
TAUP 006
Not a very likeable character narrating but a very well-written, interesting story. Very good discussion with some lively disagreement. We were all intrigued that although some didn't enjoy the book or like the characters, we all found the story compelling.
ASHB 008
This book created more discussion than we have had with any other book. We are putting it on the list to read again next year!
Our group usually goes decades without a book like this - which everyone disliked. That said, we had an interesting discussion. Several distinct views on the suicide came up. Most had trouble following the storyline and were put off by explicit sex details - some were bothered by neither. Narrator Tony was a study in a life of psychological difficulties. The redeeming feature were the insights on life - often presented as quotes from historical figures.
Great discussion, characters not very sympathetic but a complex and very condensed topic.
CHCH 043
'Sense of an Ending' was very much enjoyed by our members on the whole; theme of memory inspired a good deal of discussion.
DIAM 001
Delightful language, descriptive of the times. However, the plot tended to be obtuse in parts.
NELS 007
Most of our group thought this was an extremely well-written book with a twist at the end. A few members disliked the degree of introspection which they found a bit wearing as the book progressed.
Challenging, most enjoyed but not all. Many unanswered questions. easy to read, but that belied the complexity of its content.
Generated lots of discussion with many opinions on the characters especially the relationship Adrian had with Veronica, her mother, and the young disabled Adrian. More questions than answers. Everyone enjoyed it.
ASHH 001
What was great about this amazingly well-written book, was that it grabbed the attention of some of our group, who would normally avoid 'literary' books like crazy! As they say, that is why they love bookclub - it extends and challenges. The plot and themes weren't to everyone's taste, but there was universal appreciation of what Barnes had achieved.
He won the Booker for this and on my second reading I could see why. On my first reading I gave up a few chapters in. We all liked this and were glad to have read it.