The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

by Laura Mclellan

“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”

As I do with all winners of the Man Booker Prize, I approached this title warily but was rapidly captivated. The unusual combination of familiarity and poetry is charming to say the least. The main character is so relatable, I imagined him speaking with my own North Yorkshire accent.

This is a poignant story of “memory and mortality” (The Independent), to which I would also add morality. The narrator, Tony Webster, traces the trajectory of his life from his close-knit clique at boy’s school, through his first love (and heartbreak), the suicide of his friend, marriage, fatherhood, divorce and retirement.

Melancholic without ever being tragic, Barnes cleverly shows us how deceiving our own memory can be, how we shape history to suit our purposes and sensibilities. And with the final twist, we are left questioning our own memory and understanding.

The book has recently been adapted for the big screen by director, Ritesh Batra. In cinemas April 2018.

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