The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending
Alfred A. Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307957122, 163pp.
Publication Date: October 5, 2011
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.
“Elegant, playful, and remarkable.” —The New Yorker
“A page turner, and when you finish you will return immediately to the beginning . . . Who are you? How can you be sure? What if you’re not who you think you are? What if you never were? . . . At 163 pages, The Sense of an Ending is the longest book I have ever read, so prepare yourself for rereading. You won’t regret it.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Dense with philosophical ideas . . . it manages to create genuine suspense as a sort of psychological detective story . . . Unpeeling the onion layers of the hero’s life while showing how [he] has sliced and diced his past in order to create a self he can live with. —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Ferocious. . . . a book for the ages.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“An elegantly composed, quietly devastating tale about memory, aging, time and remorse. . . . Offers somber insights into life’s losses, mistakes and disappointments in a piercing, thought provoking narrative. Bleak as this may sound, the key word here—the note of encouragement—is ‘insights.’ And this beautiful book is full of them.” —NPR
“With his characteristic grace and skill, Barnes manages to turn this cat-and-mouse game into something genuinely suspenseful.” —The Washington Post
“[A] jewel of conciseness and precision. . . . The Sense of an Ending packs into so few pages so much that the reader finishes it with a sense of satisfaction more often derived from novels several times its length.” –The Los Angeles Times
“Elegiac yet potent, The Sense of an Ending probes the mysteries of how we remember and our impulse to redact, correct – and sometimes entirely erase – our pasts. . . . Barnes’s highly wrought meditation on aging gives just as much resonance to what is unknown and unspoken as it does to the momentum of its own plot.” –Vogue
"Deliciously intriguing . . . with complex and subtle undertones [and] laced with Barnes' trademark wit and graceful writing." —The Washington Times
“Ominous and disturbing. . . . This outwardly tidy and conventional story is one of Barnes’s most indelible [and] looms oppressively in our minds.” –The Wall Street Journal
"Brief, beautiful....That fundamentally chilling question - Am I the person I think I am? -turns out to be a surprisingly suspenseful one.... As Barnes so elegantly and poignantly revels, we are all unreliable narrators, redeemed not by the accuracy of our memories but by our willingness to question them." —Julie Wittes Schlack, The Boston Globe.
"A brilliant, understated examination of memory and how it works, how it compartmentalizes and fixes impressions to tidily store away..... Barnes reminds his readers how fragile is the tissue of impressions we conveniently rely upon as bedrock." —Tom Zelman, Minneapolis Star Tribune