Monday, 31 October 2011

Book Review: The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes. Man Booker Prize Winner 2011

The Man Booker Prize is the most prestigious and enduring accolade in literary fiction. Julian Barnes is considered one of the finest authors of our generation. Having made the Booker Prize shortlist on three previous occasions, it was 27 years later and fourth time lucky for him with his latest offering in the form of short novel, "The Sense of an Ending"


Here is my best summary of the plot without giving anything away;


The novella is the introspective journey of Tony Webster, a middle aged balding man looking back on some of the defining events of his life. A lawyer's letter informing him of an unexpected testament in a will, forces Tony to revisit his youth through the hazy mirage of unremarkable decades gone-by. In many ways the protagonist has lived an ordinary life and there is a sense that much of whats happened to him, has really happened to others and that he's lived vicariously in that afterglow. The complicated semi-celibate relationship with his girlfriend Veronica. Her subsequent leaving him for his superior school friend and intellectual, Adrian. Adrian's suicide. Tony believes he understands his role in these events, that somehow history is in his grasp and as accurate as his beliefs about it. However, he is taken on a journey that forces him to reexamine his assumed knowledge of himself and his startling role in the events all those years before.


The novel is a poignant one and Barnes writes with wonderful dexterity. Welcomingly the work is not overly ponderous however, it still engenders an amount of self-reflection in the reader as we work through the maze of Tony Webster's predicament. Furthermore, the shortness of the book, 160 pages, makes it infinitely more readable and gives it a certain potency that may have been lost if Tony had been given more time with his audience. As the plot isn't particularly fast paced Barnes adopts an economical and selective approach to storytelling, which effectively mirrors the mind of our protagonist.


I would recommend this book to anyone, especially from a stylistic and technical viewpoint. When I read books it isn't always for entertainment, but sometimes for the pure pleasure gleaned from an insight into the imaginations of some of the greatest minds of our time. Julian Barnes doesn't disappoint and truly delivers something unique and inspired.



4 comments:

  1. Many thanks for the review; def putting on my list. Currently reading "the immortal life of henrietta lacks" - it's different.

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  2. Thank you for your comment, it's definitely worth looking at and because it is so short, its a very quick and easy read. enjoy :) xx

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  3. Love your blog. Was wondering if you would do a post on your favourite books of 2011 or something like that? Looking for new reading material :)

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  4. thank you! i am on the case and doing a round up as we speak :) watch the space xxx

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