“An O.K. story, but I had to read a review to find out what the conclusion was about.”Adrian Romero wrote this review Thursday, June 6, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“In 163 pages author Julian Barnes sketches a most insightful book on the passage of time and life history. Using a plot line that begins with four adolescent friends and a few supplemental characters, and telling the tale with the first person intimacy of one of the young men, an evocative reminiscence takes the reader through school days and into late middle age.
Tony Webster is in his sixties when he is left, from an unexpected source, an unusual bequest which causes him to reexamine his life. In doing so, he brings the reader along through what on the surface seems to be a very ordinary chronicling of a very ordinary life. However, the reader quickly discovers that while Tony gives all the commendation for life’s deeper moments to others, he is far more discerning than he gives himself credit for. Through Tony, Julian Barnes funnels some of the most profound components of the human journey, including the lesson that life is seldom as transparent as it appears to be on the surface.
Julian Barnes’s writing is so fabulous that I think I wrote more quotes in my journal than I have from any other book. Here are a few of my favorites:
He had a better mind and a more rigorous temperament than me; he thought logically, and then acted on the conclusion of logical thought. Whereas most of us, I suspect, do the opposite: we make an instinctive decision, then build up an infrastructure of reason to justify it.
But time...how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we call realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time...give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical. (ellipses included in original text)
When you’re young-when I was young-you want your emotions to be like the ones you read about in books. You want them to overturn your life, create and define a new reality. Later, I think, you want them to do something milder, something more practical: you want them to support your life as it is and has become. You want them to tell you that things are OK.
It is a very, very infrequent occurrence that I say that I think a book is destined to become a classic, but this one bears many of the hallmarks. The themes of friendship and love, the slide of time that cannot be held in check, and the life elements universal to every generation make this a read that will feel just as relevant to my grandchildren as to me. I loved this book and recommend it for all readers high school and older.”
“Liked this a lot, and plan to read more by Julian Barnes.”Sherry A wrote this review Thursday, May 23, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Reflections on things done in youth and the impact they had. Very British school boy. Philosophical.”Chris K wrote this review Wednesday, May 22, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Interesting book about how the events of high school and college had long-term ramifications on a man's life. The style was a little different, but not off-putting. It was unusual. The protagonist was not a hero, nor was he pitiful, but I got to know him as the book progressed, and felt a little sorry for him.”Alaine wrote this review Monday, May 20, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A very well written book in which I underlined many quotes. A surprise ending that leaves you wondering why the main character kept second guessing everything to no avail”Sharon Cation wrote this review Thursday, May 16, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I was blown away by Sense of an Ending. It packs it all in, life, love, settling, shame, self deceit, rationalizing, fear of saying/doing the wrong thing, misunderstanding, time's fleetfulness and remorse. Egads! It made me laugh, cringe, want to jump off a cliff and nod in total understanding.”Elizabeth wrote this review Friday, May 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Ending was disappointing. Otherwise a very good read. Really liked the reflections on memory.”gauravkul wrote this review Thursday, May 9, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“My first Julian Barnes - really enjoyed it so probably not my last!”John Gilchrist wrote this review Wednesday, May 8, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The cover says the book begs to be read in a single sitting, and I could not agree more. It's very short, very hard to put down, but also spans several decades, so feels much longer than it is. In a good way.
Tony Webster revisits his past to the point where his group of friends grew to include a fourth friend, the new-comer to the school, Adrian. Adrian is perceived as being the smart one in the group and as the friends graduate from school and continue their education/take up jobs, they remain in touch and get together from time to time.
Tony meets Veronica while in university and falls for her, he meets her family and in retrospect seems to understand things he had missed the first time. Shortly after, he realizes they were not meant to be together, and then, Adrian comes into the picture and he and Veronica start dating. This, in a way, ends his friendship with Adrian and he does not hear of Veronica until a few decades pass.
He gets an unexpected letter one day, that set off several questions in his mind and he has to seek out Veronica to understand the missing parts of his/their past.
The prose is sad and beautiful, the story easily had me immersed in it. Several clues are thrown in, so the ending was expected. That did not take away from the enjoyment of the book. The way the story is told, and perhaps, the friendship in the beginning of the book reminded me of a book I read and fell in love with several years ago, Matters of Honor by Louis Begley.