The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

About the plot

The whole novel is in retrospect, and is told through the narrator of Tony. He reflects upon his life, the people that have passed through it, and the situation he is in as he narrates his tale. Characters from his past are explored, past conversations re-analysed – but the novel is not all description of the past. Towards the last third of the novel there is a change in direction, and you will find yourself moving forward through Tony’s life as he lives it. Characters from his past are brought back into the fore, and he finds himself understanding them in ways he couldn’t conceive previously.

Why you should read it & my personal response

Barnes has a truly wonderful way of exploring time and the transience of life. I found that whilst this novel involved retrospect, I still found it engaging, and wondered what would happen next. The plot isn’t fast paced, it just kind of drifts by, but that is one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much. Rather than moving you through lots of action, you find yourself gradually piecing lives and people together until you have the great picture of Tony’s life.

If you’re looking for a fairly quick read that will make you think then this is a great book. It doesn’t promise high impact action, or intense plot, but what you get is far more spectacular than that. The subtle reflections on life and time will leave you reflective on your life, and the impact that you make on the world.

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