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The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes Still working out whether my feelings of ambivalence over this one are for the novel itself, or for the well-developed but insufferable Tony. He and his friends are a familiar posse of pretentious British schoolboys, and he ages into a familiarly pretentious older man. Characters from his past surface, along with some mid-life regret about said past. He behaves badly, again. We're left with a twist of an ending that remains murky, though that's certainly part of the point; memory alone isn't reliable, as Tony's constantly changing recollections clearly illustrate, and the most important first-hand account - Adrian's diary - has been destroyed, tying in neatly with Adrian's earlier discourse on history. Sure, but...so?

On the other hand, Barnes is a terrific writer, and almost everything about the novel works (so cleanly, though, that it feels contrived). I've thought quite about about it since finishing, particularly Veronica - while we never hear her side of the story, she's the character who's suffered most, at the hands of Tony, Adrian, and her mother, and she comes closest to holding the truth. I'd have liked more development of her character, and of Adrian, but that's less an authorial flaw, I think, than the simple limitation that we're only given access to them through Tony's memories.