Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending (4 stars)

Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending

Economically-told novella from the master storyteller

(Jonathan Cape)

Imprecise memory, lifelong regrets and the inconsistencies between shared histories are at the heart of Julian Barnes’ short and sharp new novella. As a title, The Sense of an Ending refers to the way in which his characters’ relations end messily, whether through thwarted love or actual lives cut short by their own hand; it might even allude to the reader’s expectations of how this tale will reach a conclusion; the final twist, while barely Shyamalan-esque, will still fox many.

As a middle-aged divorcee, Tony Webster looks back on his life and in particular, his schooldays with a clique of friends and the love he never quite had with the prickly Veronica. When she winds up with the crew’s maverick Adrian, it upsets the rejected and humiliated Tony so much he sends off an angry letter to the pair, a missive that still haunts him many years later.

A true master of his craft, Barnes’ precise and economic prose is often a delight, and he packs in some vivid characterisation, scene-drawing and emotional insight within his brief 150 pages.

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