Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Review - The Sense of an Ending

Title: The Sense of an Ending.
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd.
Year of Publication: 2011.
Format: E-book.
Genre:Contemporary, Literary, Novel, Drama, Mystery.
    Blurb: Here

My Thoughts:
I am not exactly sure why I picked up this book to read. I know that I was drawn to its cover. The dandelions gave the book a wistful feeling, so did the title. After reading first few pages, I thought it is going to be one of those books trying to claim what it is not. Yet, I kept on going. I didn't want to abandon a book especially such a short read.
The Sense of an Ending is a story about a mediocre man who is enjoying his retirement.Tony Webster is retired & divorced: still in good terms with his ex wife. He visits his daughter once in a while. He goes to the library, volunteers at the nearby hospital and is basically having a peaceful retirement. One fine day everything changes. He receives a letter informing him that his first girlfriend's mother has passed away and left him 500 pounds and the diary of his childhood friend, Adrian. Now that is just plain weird right?

The book is in two parts: One part is Tony reminiscing about his youth and the next part he trying to understand the reason why he was added in a dead woman's will. A woman whom he had met only once in his life many years ago. Along with a lot of recollection of blocked memories.
The story starts with Tony and his friends(Colin and Alex) when they were adolescents. They become friends with the enigmatic  boy in class, Adrian. The readers are made aware that Adrian is a genius, with his out of the box thinking process. The boys  grow up and go their own ways to universities.  Tony meets Veronica. They date. They break up. This romance has an integral part to play in the book. When I say romance, it doesn't mean the plot is mush filled. It merely means that there was a romance and it somehow  becomes the backbone of the whole plot.
Even though it is a short read, it felt like a long read. I didn't know the music the characters discussed or some of the other stuff they talked about when they were growing up. However, I found myself warming up to the story.  It stayed with me even when I was not reading it. The more I thought about the book, the more I loved it.The narration by Tony is what experts call an unreliable narrator. We know Tony as a peaceful person but how he distorts the events that occurred, to justify his actions is the appealing part of the plot. Throughout the book I didn't really care about Adrian even though he is portrayed as the special one. I just felt he was being a pretentious snob. I despised Veronica's character. I felt very little pity towards her at the various turn of events. Tony was the only character I empathized with. He was not very likable by the end of the story and yet I was ready to forgive him and tell him, 'Its all right!'  The prose is lyrical and melancholic. The story touches personal levels on how a person blocks memories which causes pain, knowingly or unknowingly. The plot describes the life of almost anyone. The urge to grow up. The mistakes you commit when you are young and think that you own the world and lastly the remorse and what ifs you feel once you reach the stage in your life where all you do is look back at the years gone by.
An extremely normal story about an normal person: the character admits that he might have led a boring life and how he becomes aware of a disaster that occurred, which may or may not be because of him and the remorse he feels. Mr. Barnes took the life of an ordinary man and makes it extraordinary weaving a very realistic story and yet it is so unbelievable that it is plain genius. 

My Rating:
 Rating Policy


  1. I have heard nothing but good things about this book. It's been on my To-read list for the longest time. The plot seems to be interesting , I can't wait to see what was between dead woman and Tony.I'll be picking up this book soon. Wonderful review Anisha!! :)

    1. Thankyou Ini :)
      Few friends of mine had recommend this book to me.

  2. Beautiful review! I've seen this book featuring on some lists associated with awesomeness, but I wasn't too keen on reading it somehow. Your review though makes me want to pick it up. :D I like the "deep meaning" kind of theme, extraordinariness in an ordinary life, the realistic touch and lessons it seems to have. :)

    1. Thankyou Ashna. You are right about the "extraordinariness in an ordinary life" part.
      Do read if you get a chance.

  3. The book is a worthy winner. It deconstructs the romanticism built around the concepts of 'memory' and 'nostalgia'. It is a book divided into two parts. The first part is a memory told by the protagonist. The second part is the anti-thesis. The memory receives a setback. And it is interestingly narrated. The end is poignant.


Make me a happy bunny, would ya? :D