The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

88%

25 Critic Reviews

The mutability of memory lies at the heart of Julian Barnes's brilliantly concise novel
-Guardian

Synopsis

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.
 

About Julian Barnes

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Julian Barnes's honors include the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2004 he was named Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. He lives in London. www.julianbarnes.com
 
Published October 5, 2011 by Vintage. 177 pages
Genres: Other, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Nov 06 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for The Sense of an Ending
All: 25 | Positive: 23 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Liesl Schillinger on Nov 10 2011

In it Julian Barnes reveals crystalline truths that have taken a lifetime to harden. He has honed their edges, and polished them to a high gleam.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Oct 16 2011

Mr. Barnes does an agile job, however, of unpeeling the onion layers of his hero’s life while showing how Tony has sliced and diced his past in order to create a self he can live with.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Justin Cartwright on Jul 31 2011

The mutability of memory lies at the heart of Julian Barnes's brilliantly concise novel

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Justine Jordan on Jul 26 2011

Barnes excels at colouring everyday reality with his narrator's unique subjectivity, without sacrificing any of its vivid precision...

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Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Maggie Ball on Dec 07 2011

The Sense of an Ending is a beautifully crafted exploration of a character arc that happens too late to affect change.

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Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Nov 01 2011

A knockout. What at first seems like a polite meditation on childhood and memory leaves the reader asking difficult questions about how often we strive to paint ourselves in the best possible light.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Corinna Lothar on Oct 28 2011

...is a novel for grown-ups. On the surface, it’s a simple story, but one with complex and subtle undertones. Laced with Mr. Barnes’ trademark wit and graceful writing...

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Sandra Martin on Aug 12 2011

Exquisitely concise, The Sense of an Ending, which is long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, offers a merciless portrait of late-20th-century males.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Martin Rubin on Oct 21 2011

"The Sense of an Ending" packs into so few pages so much that the reader finishes it with a sense of satisfaction more often derived from novels several times its length.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Jeff Turrentine on Oct 10 2011

With his characteristic grace and skill, Barnes manages to turn this cat-and-mouse game into something genuinely suspenseful, as Veronica reveals just enough information to make Tony desperate for more.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Boyd Tonkin on Aug 05 2011

A slow burn, measured but suspenseful, this compact novel makes every slyly crafted sentence count.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Anita Brookner on Jul 25 2011

...Julian Barnes tracks the origin of one particular memory through a long and apparently uneventful life towards an explanation that leaves traces of unease that are difficult to dismiss.

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Forbes

Excellent
Reviewed by Geoff Mak on Mar 29 2012

Nearly every paragraph in this book has multiple interpretations. Once all the questions are answered, the reader is left...floored at life’s essential mysteries, and frustrated that they cannot be relived.

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London Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Wood on Sep 22 2011

The Sense of an Ending is the story of an obtuseness that generally cannot see the damage it does, and yet in a brief moment of illumination grasps the malevolence lurking in what it took to be its quiet life.

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Boston Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Roger Boylan on Apr 10 2012

In The Sense of an Ending, his eleventh novel, Barnes’s meditations on memory attain their zenith.

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World Literature Today (The University of Oklahoma)

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrew Martino on Jan 01 2012

After reading this little treasure of a book, I have come to realize that I was missing the subtlety and grace of Barnes's prose.

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ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Good
Reviewed by Lisa Hill on Sep 12 2012

...is a wise, thoughtful novel about human frailty, remorse and how sometimes, we need to look beyond what we are told by others about themselves and interrogate the face that is being presented to the world.

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Boston Bibliophile

Good
Reviewed by Marie on Jan 26 2012

...is a wonderfully, intricately crafted unreliable-narrator story starring a perfectly ordinary man who, through one act of cruelty by whose impact he himself seems baffled, upends four lives for years to come.

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Musings of a Literary Dilettante's Blog

Good
Reviewed by musingsofaliterarydilettante on May 23 2012

Barnes captures the nuances of ageing with quiet sensitivity. There’s an intimacy with it that is powerfully affecting.

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Asylum

Good
Reviewed by John Self on Aug 11 2011

The Sense of an Ending is a memoir on death, again, but a fictional one this time.

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RatRaceRefuge

Good
Reviewed by Stephen Roof

Regardless of the length, this novel packs a powerful punch as it tackles deep themes about living life to the fullest, the flaws of memories, emotional damage, and the nature of remorse.

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Gory Bowes Taylor

Good
Reviewed by Lynda Gilfillan on Dec 01 2011

At 150 pages, it is a subtle meditation on memory, the passing of time, and the meaning of friendship.

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SHELF LIFE

Good
Reviewed by GENTLE READER on Apr 16 2012

The ending was elegant, and satisfying in that it left me sitting there, staring off into space, putting all the little pieces of the story back together in my head, armed as I now was with more knowledge.

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READING THE SHORT STORY

Below average
Reviewed by CHARLES MAY on Feb 11 2012

I was glad I didn’t pay for it. I didn’t like it. I thought it was clichéd, clumsy, tedious, pretentious, and just plain ordinary.

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The Art of Fiction

Below average
Reviewed by Adrian Slatcher on Dec 28 2011

The lives we are reading about in "The Sense of an Ending" seem inauthentic, the story schematic, and the detail uneven and prosaic...

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Reader Rating for The Sense of an Ending
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