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MisterHobgoblin

The Sense Of An Ending

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Like Anthony Webster, the narrator of The Sense Of An Ending, I "just don't get it".

 

This short novel starts well enough, if unremarkably, with an account of friendships in the last days of school and early days of university. There is a sense of loss when childhood friendships drift apart as new, adult lives begin. The tone is fairly melancholy, as is Julian Barnes's wont and [whisper it quietly] can be quite dull, as is also his wont. But no matter, Anthony is supposed to be boring so it's simply being narrated in character.

 

But it is the second half of the novel which doesn't work - at least for this reader. The ghosts of those earlier days come back to haunt Anthony and offer loose ends that he cannot resist pulling at. This leads to a growing sense of unease at where it is all leading. The trouble is, the final reveal doesn't make sense. The earlier actions just don't lead to the conclusion and seem pretty inexplicable.

 

For my money, pages 144-150 unravel all the promising good work of earlier pages. If the novel had been left at that point, the reader could have drawn his or her own conclusions about what had really happened; on how reliable the narrator was. There was an alternative ending which would have been much more cataclysmic; which might have justified the accusation that Anthony "just didn't get it"; which might have explained events rather better. But the last six pages seem to offer a certainty that the novel could well have lived without.

 

Most of all, though, there's a sense that Julian Barnes has been here before. The Lemon Table, his lamentable 2004 collection, featured a series of stories about aging, death, loss and regret. It was quite stifling with its relentless misery. The Sense Of An Ending feels like the one that got away - the story that belongs in that collection but was just too long to squeeze in. Moreover, melancholy, loss and regret have been done this year with rather more élan by Graham Swift in Wish You Were Here.

 

So, ironic as it sounds, this short, 150 page novel feels a bit too long and a bit too contrived.

 

**000

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Previous discussion from 2011/2012 restored

 

#1 13th August 2011, 09:56 AM

nonsuch

 

This first person narrative is a study in obsessive guilt. Tony Webster looks back to his first encounter with Adrian Finn, the new boy at school. Adrian is obviously a cut above the rest of the lads; he is serious, logical and inquisitive, destined for great things at Cambridge University. Years later Tony hears of his suicide, a carefully arranged affair, with appropriate notes to family, friends and authorities. He had once told Tony that Camus maintained that suicide was the only true philosophical question. The subject arose when a fellow student, Robson, hanged himself after getting his girlfriend pregnant. What possible connection could there be between the fatal decision of the mediocre student Robson, whose last words read simply ‘Sorry, Mum’ and the signing off of the genius Adrian?

 

The clue – to that part of the novel at least - lies in the relationship both Tony and Adrian have with a rather classy and prickly girl known as Veronica (later Mary) Ford, whose parents Tony visits for a disastrous week-end in Chislehurst, where he is treated rudely both by Veronica’s father and her brother Jack, but kindly by Mrs Ford, Veronica’s mother. Only in his later years, which absorb most of the second part of this slim novel, does Tony – and possibly the reader - begin to ‘get it’ as Veronica continually puts it about her family situation. By then we have learned of an insulting letter Tony had written to the unhappy pair, Veronica and Adrian, which may or may not have been the trigger that caused his demise. The reader will need to read the novel a second time to pick up on the clues Barnes plants regarding the abortive love affair with the hostile Veronica. In fact the whole book is about unravelling mistaken notions, discovering hidden meanings in past conversations, finding new clues to understanding the self, its delusions and unintended slights with their unforeseen consequences.

 

I found the book both fascinating and frustrating, as was no doubt the author’s intention. It is undoubtedly a clever book, but to me, as with the same author’s Flaubert’s Parrot, rather too cerebral, lacking the warmth of real human relationships. There are so many things the narrator and reader do not ‘get’. Why, for instance, should Tony continually pursue a girl, then the girl as woman, who was only using him as a plaything? It makes no sense to him or the reader. Is it sufficient to say that it is the donnée on which the whole book rests, just as other obsessives, like for instance Kemal in The Museum of Innocence or Charles Arrowby in The Sea, The Sea, expend vast energies in pursuit hopeless causes? The difference is that both Pamuk’s and Murdoch’s novels delve deep into the psyches of their narrators. We understand, sympathise and forgive them, even when they are boring us. At least Barnes’s novel is too short to be boring. It is indeed, extremely readable and. in its own way, strangely haunting,

 

 

#2 16th August 2011, 09:52 AM

MisterHobgoblin

 

Like Anthony Webster, the narrator of The Sense Of An Ending, I "just don't get it".

 

This short novel starts well enough, if unremarkably, with an account of friendships in the last days of school and early days of university. There is a sense of loss when childhood friendships drift apart as new, adult lives begin. The tone is fairly melancholy, as is Julian Barnes's wont and [whisper it quietly] can be quite dull, as is also his wont. But no matter, Anthony is supposed to be boring so it's simply being narrated in character.

 

But it is the second half of the novel which doesn't work - at least for this reader. The ghosts of those earlier days come back to haunt Anthony and offer loose ends that he cannot resist pulling at. This leads to a growing sense of unease at where it is all leading. The trouble is, the final reveal doesn't make sense. The earlier actions just don't lead to the conclusion and seem pretty inexplicable.

 

For my money, pages 144-150 unravel all the promising good work of earlier pages. If the novel had been left at that point, the reader could have drawn his or her own conclusions about what had really happened; on how reliable the narrator was. There was an alternative ending which would have been much more cataclysmic; which might have justified the accusation that Anthony "just didn't get it"; which might have explained events rather better. But the last six pages seem to offer a certainty that the novel could well have lived without.

 

Most of all, though, there's a sense that Julian Barnes has been here before. The Lemon Table, his lamentable 2004 collection, featured a series of stories about aging, death, loss and regret. It was quite stifling with its relentless misery. The Sense Of An Ending feels like the one that got away - the story that belongs in that collection but was just too long to squeeze in. Moreover, melancholy, loss and regret have been done this year with rather more élan by Graham Swift in Wish You Were Here.

 

So, ironic as it sounds, this short, 150 page novel feels a bit too long and a bit too contrived.

 

**000

 

 

#3 22nd August 2011, 04:15 PM

nonsuch

 

Like Anthony Webster, the narrator of The Sense Of An Ending, I "just don't get it".

So, ironic as it sounds, this short, 150 page novel feels a bit too long and a bit too contrived.

 

**000

Pretty much my feeling too. I never read his novel about Conan Doyle. Was that worth reading?

 

 

#4 29th August 2011, 10:15 AM

Mouse

 

I'm not sure about the ending - can anyone advise who's read it?

 

Was the conclusion that Adrian, his friend had:

 

slept with Veronica's mother and had the child

 

or that Tony, the narrator had.

 

Either way I agree with comments above.

 

 

#5 29th August 2011, 10:52 AM

MisterHobgoblin

 

I'm not sure about the ending - can anyone advise who's read it?

 

Was the conclusion that Adrian, his friend had:

 

slept with Veronica's mother and had the child

 

or that Tony, the narrator had.

 

Either way I agree with comments above.

My reading was that Adrian had -

 

otherwise the story simply makes no sense. Why wouldn't Susan have told Anthony at the time? How would Veronica have known? How would Adrian's diary be relevant?

 

Not that it makes much more sense that Adrian had done the deed. In that case, how would Anthony be relevant?

 

Either way, I can't see why Susan named the child after her daughter's boyfriend.

 

The whole novel[la] reminds me of the Emperor's New Clothes. It's written in the style of something profound so people assume it must be profound.

 

 

#6 11th September 2011, 12:41 PM

leyla

 

Here's a very quickly scribbled review of Julian Barnes's fabulous The Sense of an Ending. Had loads of wonderful quotes I wanted to include, but wanted to get it written quickly, so omitted them:

 

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

 

Jonathan Cape £12.99

 

Reviewed by Leyla Sanai

 

Julian Barnes is a master of compelling, lucid prose, and his range is far-reaching. From meditations on the French writer Flaubert to personal and philosophical musings on the inevitability and terror of death; from novels about middle-class media types in the 1980s to reworkings of the life of Arthur Conan Doyle in the nineteenth century; and from his sharp, satirical short stories to those which devastatingly ponder loss, he is as versatile as he is sophisticated. There is also an understated elegance to his writing – he is not one for flashy gimmickry, no hare-brained fadster rushing to the finish line – rather, he is the tortoise whose shell, when you pick it up, is studded on the inside with dew that is indiscernable from diamonds – considered, sensitive, brilliant without being ostentatious, weathering flash floods to win every time.

 

One prize he hasn’t won to date, inexplicably, is the Man Booker, which has eluded him despite being shortlisted several times, but since he’s on the 2011 shortlist, many of us have high hopes that he’ll make it this year.

 

The Sense of an Ending is a slip of a thing, only 150 pages short. But its power is almost in inverse proportion to its length.

 

The story is narrated by a retired middle-class bloke, Tony. Some event has occurred in his life fairly recently, and it has given him cause to mull on the nature of time and of memory. Tony starts the story with his schooldays, when he was part of a trio of friends who quickly became in thrall to a new boy, Adrian, vastly more intelligent and serious than anyone they’d previously known. The story segues naturally into Tony’s time at university in Bristol, and his first serious relationship, with a fellow student called Veronica.

 

At intervals, Tony moves to more recent events – his receipt of a letter from a solicitor telling him he has been left Adrian’s diaries in a will, and his attempts to procure those diaries.

 

Past and present intertwine in this beautifully realised story which examines the faulty nature of memory; its subjectiveness and bias, and thus, the unreliability of history, both personal and general. As Tony is made to re-examine his youthful assumptions, he realises that he is not proud of the

person he once was.

 

Barnes has managed the feat of being both wickedly funny and heartbreakingly moving in the same story; a trick which only the very best writers – William Boyd in Any Human Heart, for example – manage. Tony’s account of his schooldays is often guffaw-inducingly hilarious, some of his classroom scenes evoking the unsurpassable scenes in Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies when callow and insensitive schoolboys enliven lessons. But the undercurrent of seriousness is never far from the surface. The reader picks up details that the blundering younger Tony misses – Adrian’s vulnerability (beneath his confident intellectualism, he is a child whose mother has left him); Tony’s unwillingness to engage emotionally with Veronica; the impact of cruel words rashly spoken.

 

Even if one sees the ending twist coming, the impact is not lessened; in fact it almost accentuates Tony’s myopia. The book is a swooning delight from start to end – the realistic dialogue, the humour, the evocation of youth lived in the not-distant past. And its theme – the mutability of memory; the inaccuracy and bias of history – is haunting and powerful. If Julian Barnes doesn’t win the Man Booker with this one, then – as Giles Coren suggested recently - the Man Booker doesn’t deserve him.

 

 

#7 11th September 2011, 12:56 PM

leyla

 

My reading was that Adrian had -

 

otherwise the story simply makes no sense. Why wouldn't Susan have told Anthony at the time? How would Veronica have known? How would Adrian's diary be relevant?

 

Not that it makes much more sense that Adrian had done the deed. In that case, how would Anthony be relevant?

 

Either way, I can't see why Susan named the child after her daughter's boyfriend.

 

Mr HG, you've probably seen my interpretation on the Man Booker site, but for anyone else who is mystified, here's a link - it's the long post by me on this page, and contains spoilers:

 

[The forum link posted by leyla in 2011 is no longer valid, the book's general entry at the manbooker site is: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/books/sense-ending]

 

Incidentally, the mathematical equations in the page from Adrian's diary that Tony receives gave the plot away to me.

 

 

#8 11th September 2011, 05:13 PM

inkspill

 

Review - Sense of an Ending

 

The first thing that strikes you about the hardback edition is the front cover; the way the black just sits on the right like it’s casting a shadow – without effort it drowns out the predominant cream colour.

 

Then you read the title again: ‘The Sense of an Ending’.

 

If the idea of death hasn’t entered your mind then it certainly becomes a reflex action when you see how the long edge of each page is black. Just one-side, like it’s understated, but leaves a haunting impression.

 

So, before you have opened the book there is already a sense of drama, like it’s preparing you for something awful. Then you start reading the first page:

 

“I remember in no particular order:

- A shiny shirt;

- Steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is ...”

 

The opening is mellow, someone reminiscing, remembering things about their life; they seem to be trying to make sense of some mystery. You are drawn in but you are not quite sure where this is going or what to expect.

 

And death is present, but in a more matter of fact rather than gruesome manner, like it’s a metaphor that is provoking the reader to question the relationship they have with their memories.

 

In different hands this could have been an ordinary, boring tale, but Barnes manages to take the antihero of this story and make him likeable; as a reader you can’t help but appreciate (or make allowances for) some of his actions.

 

Also, the narrative is tightly woven; the narrator is determined not to be side-tracked, picking out only the necessary details of various memories to move his story forward. This along with some unexpected twists and insinuations are enough to give this story and character depth.

 

Maybe there will be readers out there who will find they may connect better with this novel if these moments were more drawn out. However, would this then also change the story from being a philosophical thesis to just another tale about a man looking back on his life?

 

 

#9 25th October 2011, 08:36 PM

jfp

 

Si jeunesse savait... si vieillesse pouvait...

 

I see that The Sense of an Ending has polarized opinion here and there: on this site, on the Man Booker site, on Amazon. Personally I found it an almost – but not quite – immaculate piece of short fiction. And far, far superior to the other four Booker-shortlisted titles I’ve read. Barnes’s novella is to my mind a minor classic.

 

The evidence of Barnes’s mastery is there right from the title. I remember being struck, when reading one of Barnes’s earlier novels, Talking It Over, by the way in which the title gradually took on a meaning radically different from what might have been anticipated: it might be supposed that people talk things over in order to make sense of them, to reach a more accurate understanding of them. However, it became clear that the alternating narrators of Talking It Over found themselves, whether or not deliberately, complicating the meaning of events and experiences by narrating them: talking things over became strangely similar to covering things over, or papering over awkward cracks.

 

Similarly, The Sense of an Ending is a title which begins to swim before the reader’s eyes. The narrator, Tony, this time well into middle age, is, again, thinking things over. This time there is at least a double ambiguity: the “ending” can be taken to be death itself, or, more vaguely, the way various things turn out. And the sense of an ending is both the premonition of death, and of the fact that life is less and likely to change radically towards its end, as one gets older – and also the need to make sense, retrospectively, of past events, including the death of Adrian, an old schoolfriend of the narrator’s.

 

The most important event in the novel ostensibly appears to be the fact that Adrian started going out with Tony’s ex-girlfriend, Veronica, during their final year at different universities and, encouraged by Veronica, sought Tony’s benediction of the relationship. The reply sent by Tony is dealt with fairly obliquely in the first part of the novella:

 

As far as I remember, I told him pretty much what I thought of of their joint moral scruples.

 

But then a photocopy of the letter falls into his hands over forty years later, and this time is reproduced in full. It is one of the most devastatingly cruel letters imaginable: sour grapes at their most unpleasantly acidic.

 

And it seems that most of the narrator’s later disillusionment and remorse revolves around that incident. Except that he is, towards the end, forced to start making sense of something which he had never suspected…

 

The conclusion has been felt by many to be unsatisfactory and implausible. I can imagine Julian Barnes receiving numerous letters asking him whether we are supposed to understand that Adrian in fact… And I can imagine the smile on his face as he reads them (and perhaps answers them…) But of course Barnes is not going to give any answers – any more than he chose to complete the sentence “So, for instance, if Tony” at the end of the isolated page from Adrian’s diary.

 

Much speculation has appeared on the Booker site. Did Adrian…? Did Tony…? But when the penultimate section of the novel – the one where the narrator finally says “I got it” – is read carefully, I think the reader gets it too. In other words:

 

Veronica’s mother Sarah (“making a secret horizontal gesture”) tried to seduce Tony, her daughter’s boyfriend. The broken eggs in the frying pan seem to symbolize a certain lackadaisical waywardness on her part. And she later succeeded in seducing her daughter’s next boyfriend, Adrian, and thereafter giving birth to a handicapped child.

 

The clues, when the reader looks back carefully, are there, notably when the schoolboys speculate about Adrian’s separated parents and one of them (we never learn which one, and it doesn’t matter) says “Maybe your mum has a young lover?” Of course, this is a reference to Adrian’s mother, not Mrs Ford; nevertheless, the possiblity of toyboy lovers is clearly posited.

 

We also learn that Mrs Ford, widowed, as far as we can determine, around the age of fifty, moved to London and “took in lodgers, even though she’d been left well provided for.” Possibly to keep her emotional and sexual options open in seventies London…

 

 

But, in the end, surely the point is that we can never be absolutely and totally sure about anything…

 

I said earlier that I found the novel “not quite” immaculate, and that’s because of the

 

hair-raising trips in Veronica’s car towards the end. It’s a slightly heavy-handed way of indicating that Veronica is in fact more damaged than Tony realised.

 

 

And another couple of minor quibbles:

• Tony’s letter, written in the late sixties, refers to Veronica as “a control freak”. Was that phrase around then? Isn’t it an anachronism?

• The metaphorical “ice flow” on page 132 should be an “ice floe”.

 

But, all in all, The Sense of an Ending is a deeply moral novel about the need to make sense of one’s actions, and the need to face up to the consequences of actions which may have seemed inconsequential, or inexplicable, initially. Time, the novel makes clear, catches up on people. Irresponsible actions come home to roost. Similar points were made, with similar elegance and mastery, in John Banville’s The Sea.

 

The whole things clocks in, allowing for the blank pages, at only 145 pages. But I reckon it a far superior work to the longer novels which were shortlisted – just as Banville’s The Sea was far superior to Ishiguro’s vastly overrated Never Let Me Go six years ago.

 

 

And I know that whatever I choose to read next is going to turn out in comparison to be slightly disappointing.

 

*****

 

 

#10 25th October 2011, 11:56 PM

MisterHobgoblin

 

... just as Banville’s The Sea was far superior to Ishiguro’s vastly overrated Never Let Me Go six years ago.

This is quite wrong, of course.

 

 

#11 26th October 2011, 06:22 PM

leyla

 

John, I loved reading your elegant and intelligent comments on this book. Like you and the judges, I think it's a small masterpiece. And we seem to share tastes on some other books too - I liked Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go but thought it was v flawed (like his collection of short stories which followed it), and preferred Banville's The Sea, though unlike with the Barnes, I saw the ending twist of The Sea a mile back. I think we also both thought Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole and J.K. Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces were overrated.

 

 

#12 29th October 2011, 10:35 AM

Calliope

 

I know that whatever I choose to read next is going to turn out in comparison to be slightly disappointing.

Exactly. I found it difficult to get back to the rest of the shortlist after reading this book, I was so certain it would win.

 

It's a beautiful little book, and accomplishes what the best of literature should - it opens a window into the life of a character. I loved it and plan on reading it again very soon.

 

So I'm very happy with this year's Booker winner, thought I still find the rest of the shortlist somewhat surprising.

 

 

#13 31st October 2011, 03:05 PM

jfp

 

I found it difficult to get back to the rest of the shortlist after reading this book, I was so certain it would win.

Yes, I was lucky enough to read it fifth out of five (I plan to give The Sisters Brothers a miss) and can certify it knocks spots off all the others: to my mind the only one that was worthy of a shortlisting was Half Blood Blues.

 

 

#14 31st October 2011, 07:09 PM

MisterHobgoblin

 

to my mind the only one that was worthy of a shortlisting was Half Blood Blues.
Gaby Wood implied in the Torygraph that the panel identified Sense Of An Ending as the winner pretty much as soon as they read it. If so, it would have freed up the rest of the longlist to accommodate obscure books which the panel wanted to give a sales boost or moment of prestige without needing to worry that they were limiting their choice later on in the process.

 

 

#15 11th April 2012, 03:33 PM

Binker

 

I just finished this book and intend to re-read it (possibly right away) because all of the posters suggested it and because I came to a completely different conclusion than anyone else, which I've put in the spoiler below. Also, Leyla, the mathematical equations didn't give anything away to me, so I'm very impressed.

 

 

I thought that Tony had impregnated Veronica that one time they had sex and that Veronica's mother had raised the baby as her own to avoid the shame of having Veronica having given birth to an illegitimate child. There's lots of precedence for that kind of thing at the time (the actor Jack Nicholson, for example, was raised in just those circumstances). And to me, that makes the plot more interesting because his letter--which I just thought was run-of-the-mill ugly and spiteful--suddenly becomes completely appalling. It also explains Veronica's on-going anger at him and her being furious that he "just doesn't get it." I thought she said that in response to his email because he refers to Adrian as "the father of your son," not because her mother was the mother of the baby. I think that Veronica's mother left him the diary so that he could finally know and that's why Veronica was so eager to keep it from him. I think Adrian's suicide is something of a red herring unless the reason for the suicide was his inability to cope with the casual cruelty of the world, of which Tony was one of the biggest purveyors. I'm not sure whether that works with the equations and am too lazy to figure it out.

 

 

I'll probably post a longer review soon (if I don't re-read it) or later (if I do re-read it).

 

 

#16 17th April 2012, 06:39 PM

Lectora

 

I did not really enjoy reading this book. There is something cold, and bleak about it. It has been described as "cerebral" and I would agree. Having said that, I think the novel is technically brilliant and the ending quite superb. Yes, you are kept guessing alright and are left at the final full stop with your mind still undecided about the reason for the action which brings about the final "ending".

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The Sense of an Ending packs an awful lot into a very small space without feeling at all rushed. I love an unreliable narrator, so the challenge of unpicking what really happened from what Tony was telling me was one I relished. Was Tony demonstrating how faulty memory can be, or is he simply rewriting history to justify the truly appalling actions he gradually reveals to us in the course of the book. And, of course, the ambiguous denouement, in fact the tone throughout, is expertly designed by Barnes to generate debate. I rarely agreed with our former member Lectora on anything, but the description of this book as "technically brilliant" is a good one, particularly the skill with which Barnes sustains the reader's uncertainty about Tony..

 

For me, however, there were aspects of the book weren't so convincing. Whilst in general I agree the first half of the book was the stronger one, one aspect I "just didn't get" (to borrow one of the book's main motifs) was why Veronica's father and her brother Jack were so hostile to Tony on his visit to Chislehurst. It seemed so crucial to the events that followed but at the same time I didn't see a clear motive for it. Maybe Tony successfully hoodwinked me on this one.

 

Of course, we see the characters through Tony's eyes, and one would expect him to paint an unflattering portrait of Veronica. At the same time, I found Adrian unconvincing. I guess again I'm seeing him as Tony does, but did teenagers/young adults like him ever really exist?

 

As regards the implausibility of the ending, well, I suppose something like the situation described could well happen, but I think Barnes created characters and a situation (old man looking back on youthful indiscretions which possibly caused a suicide and for his first love to come to deeply loathe him) which he then had to justify somehow. I think it is no more unlikely than some of the situations that occur in his contemporary Ian McEwan's novels; indeed, I thought The Sense of an Ending had some very McEwan-ish aspects. 

 

Ultimately, I found Tony so unpleasant despite his calm and modest exterior that I felt he deserved to feel the remorse he expresses. In the latter half of the book he essentially becomes a stalker, with all the unpleasantness that term implies. None of the major characters, actually, are particularly nice people, which is perhaps where some people's feeling that the novel is cold springs from.

 

The Sense of an Ending was, for me, one of those books that is admirable, but hard to love, perhaps because of its characters. I'd point those wishing to sample Barnes towards his warmer Arthur and George first before reading this, whilst I also liked his debut Metroland a great deal.   

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I agree with a lot of what you said, Grammath. It's not one of my favorite Julian Barnes novels. My favorite is Flaubert's Parrot, although several people in my F2F book club didn't care for it, so I guess it's a matter of personal taste.

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A slick book, but not a great one. Some things were just a bit too pat - the double suicides for instance; others not deeply explored enough - Tony and the women. Liked his inferiority complex though and his 'worship' of the genius he could never be.

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I started this short book, my first by this author, earlier today knowing nothing about the content of the story.  I have seen threads of books by Julian Barnes appear from time to time and have meant to give him a try but just not got around to it.  Having seen the upcoming film of this book advertised on the London underground last week I decided to give the book a go.  I have read very little so far but enough to know that I am going to be able to get on with the writing style.  I find with any book by any author that the style of writing is one of the most if not the most important elements for me.  So a good start has been made.

 

I have not read the other comments as I like to do that at the end of a book.  

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Thanks for pushing this thread back to the top, cp. I've seen advertisements for the film and couldn't remember if I'd read the book. As there's no post from me on the thread I clearly haven't, so can see the film (at some point inthe future) without being disappointed with the way it differs from the book. :naughty:

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15 hours ago, megustaleer said:

Thanks for pushing this thread back to the top, cp. I've seen advertisements for the film and couldn't remember if I'd read the book. As there's no post from me on the thread I clearly haven't, so can see the film (at some point inthe future) without being disappointed with the way it differs from the book. :naughty:

 

I am just over half way through this very short book Meg and am finding that I can not put it down.  I usually wonder why books have won The Man Booker Prize when I read them but not this one.  It is a very clever thoughtful book and I cannot help but feel that Julian Barnes is a great observer of human nature.  My favourite novels are always those that explore our everyday lives, feelings and relationships and although short this so far seems to be a special example!  I for one am glad that I have read it before seeing the film.  I suspect that I will hate the film but I would not have wanted to have missed coming to the book with a clear mind uncoloured by the viewing of the film.

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I finished this book earlier today and have now read the comments of other readers posted here.  They make interesting reading!  It seems that the jury is split, half of the readers seem to think that it is brilliant while the other half are totally unconvinced.  The one thing that most readers do seem to agree upon is that the first half of the book is better than the second.  I think that I would have to agree with this.  This, for me at least and I suspect for others, is not unusual.  I often find that the setting up of a story, the history if you like, is often of more interest than the climax.

 

The one part of the novel that seems to have bothered most readers is the ending.  Again this is not unusual in any novel.  Like others I finished the book not really sure whether "I got it" or not but having thought about it and read the comments of others I am not sure that that really matters.  I think that I know what I think happened but I feel that I could just as easily be convinced otherwise.

 

I would have to agree with Grammath when he says that it is not an easy book to love.  None of the characters are really ones that can be warmed to.  At the beginning of the novel I thought that I cared about the outcome for Tony but as the book progressed I liked him less and less so much so that at the end I found that I rather despised him.  Having thought about it a bit more though I am not sure that this is even true, I think I just feel a bit sorry for him.  He really was just a boring rather spiteful man who looked back on his life with regret.  Not a nice place to be!

 

I enjoyed this book and will certainly give Julian Barnes another go.  I found the book to be cleverly written and that it kept me interested until the very last page.  I would certainly recommend it.

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I have just finished this - I read it very quickly, having just bought it yesterday.

Like some others anove, I liked the start of the book better than the second half. I was quite convinced by Tony as a character and found him quite sympathetic at first, though I didn't really understand why he found Veronica so difficult.

I liked the theme of the past and how we agree on its interpretation. But I found him increasingly irritating as it went on. It seemed fairly obvious that he wasn't going to get the resolution that he wanted, and his behaviour became increasingly inexplicable and unsympathetic. It just seemed to become too sensationalist at that point.

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Well, what a disappointment.

I've had this for a while and was often encouraged by friends to read it.  Well I did.

Loved the language, loved the insights (well some of them) into memory/history, loved the confusion.

Hated the characters, hated the story, hated the ending.

 

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