By Julian Barnes
Alfred A. Knopf, $23.95, 176 pages
The Sense of an Ending is a novel of recollection and reflection. They say hindsight is 20/20, but is it? Patrick Lagrange said, “History is that certainty produced at the points where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” Tony Webster is a middle-aged man with a comfortable life until a diary is left to him as a bequest. With only a fragment of the diary and his own memories of youth, old friends, and old loves to rely on, Tony must re-examine the past to understand it and the consequences of it.
Julian Barnes has a gift for atmosphere. This book holds a tone of melancholy nostalgia throughout. There’s mystery here for both Tony and the reader in trying to find out what happened between a group of college kids connected by love and death. But it’s not as simple as that. It’s a study of character and all the unrest that results from human interaction. The novel is beautifully written with complexity and ease. It’s a book that makes you think.
Reviewed by Leah Sims
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