The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes Book Summary

Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize

By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse.
This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.
A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre.

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The Sense of an Ending (Julian Barnes) Book Reviews

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- Very mixed feelings on this one3 star

Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautifully written and I found it compelling. Some of the passages and observations were so well said that I want to go back just to ponder them. My issue is with the reveal and the ending. We all say things we later regret and we all, with the passage of time, gain context on events, and choose to remember things in the most favorable (to us) fashion possible. We all reinvent our own past to some degree. Without spoilers, I’ll just say that the reveal is more of an odd “uh, oh-kaaay” moment than some sort of revelation wherein we see that blame for subsequent events falls on the narrator’s early (immature/hasty/ ill-advised/ angry) words. For as well written as it was I thought the ending would be a lot more consequential .

- Disapointed2 star

Normally I dont write reviews. This time I felt compelled to comment mainly because I felt very dissapointed. I believed that some great truth about life was going to be revealed. Not so. The book is actually very well written, but is a flow of retrospective analisis that led nowhere and unraveled a story that is of no consequence (at least to me).

- The mirror deceives and beguiles, the window can tell the truth4 star

It's true for all of us that our perceptions of self are skewed, our memories misleading and false, our stories incomplete and our hearts betrayed by the mind that guides it. This story shows one on a human level with the emotions hurt/pain/longing/lust/love/desire/remorse as the reader's vehicle for soulfully understanding this truth and realizing that short-sightedness and blind ambition have consequences. I found the book insightful and the character development to be admirable. Philosophical inquisitions are graced with brief moments of poetic beauty. The method of presentation was slightly difficult to fall into a flow at the commencement of reading, but soon leads the reader to be attached and invested in the characters even when a character disguises their true nature or intentions — eventually the characters are understood and respected.

- Long wind up for little payoff.1 star

Tedious detail that builds up to something supposedly shocking. But not.

- Sense of an Ending5 star

One of the best books in the last two years! EAF

- Enigmatic3 star

Hmmm... I just finished this book and I'm afraid I don't really get it. It's not that I don't understand what happened, it's just that I'm not sure the plot deserved so many pages. There's something about the prose and the thoughtful, routine, Stewart O'Nan-like focus on prosaic life that's appealing, but the final reveal left me feeling kind of empty - i.e. I read all that for that?

- Humbling5 star

All of the most complimentary adjectives apply here. Sneakily beautiful, harsh, compelling, must-read. Barnes writes of both youth and late middle age so believably...and the mystery at the novel's heart is a lingering taunt.

- Regrets anyone?5 star

This book should be read by anyone over 40 (50 or 60 even better). It has such a powerful writing! Its English is astonishing. It's about memories, regrets, life, future, ... I loved this book. But maybe it's just because it came at the perfect moment.

- Great Read5 star

I don't read often but found this hard to put down. Enjoyed the thoughts it provoked.

- The sense of an ending1 star

Did I miss something? The main character felt guilty because he suggested his friend contact his girlfriends mother 40 years ago. The friend then got the mother pregnant and committed suicide? Please tell me I missed he point.

- 100 Words or Less2 star

I know I read this. I know in the middle of the novel, I certainly continued. But now? I can hardly remember a single scene. It’s such fluff. It’s all masked in heavy sadness of life’s passing and how things change and how we look back and see different paths we might have taken. Or something like that. I’ve nothing against this type of genre – the navel-gazing of the memories of life. But I’ve read so many other better novels in this vein. Overall, it’s too insubstantial to mean anything at the end, for either the characters or the reader.

- The Sense of an Ending1 star

The protagonist in this book, Tony, is essentially a decent, moral guy. The entire premise of the book is memory and how this guy didn't "get it" back then and still doesn't "get it." Of course he didn't get it. Amoral manipulators were not part of his decent world. That does not make him intellectually inferior, as is inferred. It just makes him a nice chap with a decent life. Gosh, the author is smugly arrogant and elitist. While he makes some good points about memory that are worth contemplating, the book stands on sad, pseudo-intellectual arrogance. Get a real life based on solid, self-affirming hard work and stop mooning around with your bankrupt "left-bankery." Mostly a waste of intellectual energy.

- Excellent5 star

As a male age 60 I found this a compelling and thought provoking novel on many levels. Should have been a fast read, but I found myself re-reading parts and using the iPad's dictionary and search features to check out meaning and origin of words or to learn more about a town or a model of car. Enjoyable.

- Beautiful5 star

While the story is told from the perspective of the main character as an old man, it is his poetic realizations about time, age, and memory that make this book worth reading. While the ending is a bit of a stretch, it ties these themes into the protagonist's life in a thought provoking way. Great book, must read.

- The sense of an ending5 star

Beautifully written, unforgettable characters. Satisfying throughout; especially the ending. You won't forget this read.

- A page-turner, but ...4 star

I figured out what Adrian's formula meant, which blew the surprise ending. I'm not usually so good at guessing endings (sometimes I can't even follow the plot), so I was both proud and bummed out. Still, even knowing the terminus, I enjoyed the rest of the ride. Booker Prize? Well, it wasn't THAT good, but it kept my attention - but then I'm endlessly fascinated by inbred public school types. Ah, the levels of repression! A good read, but don't expect your life to be forever changed ...

- The Sense of an End5 star

I really can't do better than the best reviews here. It is a literary page turner, nice prose, expertly constructed. I too cannot get it out of my mind.

- The Sense of an Ending5 star

A good read. The main character is appealing and the reader uncovers truths from his past as he does. Well done.

- The Sense of an Endung4 star

Good story and a great read. Wonder full readers who have lived a bit.

- Excellent, but not easy5 star

Not for the faint of heart, this book describes how oblivious we are to our youthful behavior. It's difficult when we are confronted with our actions and the results. Can we ever really really know ourselves? Does memory serve us well? What happens when we face unexpected and unresolvable regret....

- Excellent5 star

I had this book for a while and chose it when looking for a short read. I was glad I read it. It's one of those you want to read at different times in your life to see how you relate to it. As someone with a master's degree in English, I highly recommend it.

- Amazing5 star

Got this book to read over a long flight and it absolutely blew my mind. I finished it about a week ago and i am now still thinking about the book. The book will probably mean different things for different people.

- Sense of an Ending5 star

Not a word wasted! Barnes has a way with words that is so fresh. He connects me with ideas and thoughts that have been waiting around for years in my head trying desperately to emerge as language. Don Gillman

- A sense of an ending5 star


- Sense of an ending4 star

Very well written and enjoyable The message is subtle but powerful and has stayed on my mind for days. My appreciation for this book increases the more I ponder it's powerful conclusion.

- Best Book I5 star

Read this book on my iPad and I loved it. (Both the book and reading a book on the iPad). I'm 58, so this book spoke to me on many levels. Perfectly written, terrific story, I recommend it highly!

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@DavidASachs: [email protected] and I tried to make sense of the killing in Denver as tense political rallies were ending. No one knows what wa…

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@ChrisMayer_WP: “Scenarios, by their provisional, hypothetical, and multiple nature, remind us that there is always another narrative th…

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@_BigBodyBenz_ The ending of the season is pretty bittersweet. I cried but with an understanding .... if that makes sense 😂🤣

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“Scenarios, by their provisional, hypothetical, and multiple nature, remind us that there is always another narrati…

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@Openthemag: Parents like us who have handicapped children are continually plagued by the worry: ‘Who will look after our Adit? How will…

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"This is one future which might be waiting for us. And it’s something we didn’t expect; rich with opportunity as we…

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@DrMattFinch: "Hindsight gives shape to stories, lives, and even pandemics."

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@netflix I see what you’re trying to do now. You’re getting rid of all original shows so you can just have old reru…

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@DavidASachs: [email protected] and I tried to make sense of the killing in Denver as tense political rallies were ending. No one knows what wa…

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@DavidASachs: [email protected] and I tried to make sense of the killing in Denver as tense political rallies were ending. No one knows what wa…

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[email protected] and I tried to make sense of the killing in Denver as tense political rallies were ending. No one knows…

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to write the sense of an ending #ars

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The Millennium Falcon was incredible in every sense of the word, with art having reached its peak, and an ending th…

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@72Tominator @BrandonDavisBD There's two problems with that logic. 1. Avengers: Endgame was an AVENGERS movie, in a…

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@jgopikrishnan70: The Sense of an Ending - Preparing for death. Thought provoking essay by Arun Shourie :

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