Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Narrated by Tony as he reflects on his life (we don’t know the retiree’s age, only that he feels old) the story follows an encounter with a girlfriend from his past which leads to the biographical introspection and a return to his youthful ways.

The story is divided into two sections. The first is Tony’s recollections of his school days, the tale of his first relationship with a girl named Veronica and a summary of his adult life to present.

Part Two brings the long-forgotten Veronica back into the picture in a surprising manner. Veronica holds the same mystery Tony found so intriguing forty years earlier and had sworn off, and leads him on a chase to obtain not only an item that has been bequeathed to him in her mother’s will but also information about her former lover that she seems intent on hiding from Tony.

As he spends more and more time with Veronica Tony finds himself questioning his own recollection of their shared history and behaving more like the immature adolescent he had been when dating her. He begins reflecting on whose version of events can be considered correct – the person who lived through it or the person who holds the written documentation recorded at the time.

This book, the 2011 Man Booker Prize winner, was well written and easy to read. I devoured it in record time, though it was only a short read.

It made me consider my decision to stop writing a diary when I left high school and rely on my memory to preserve my own history. There are photos and videos of significant events but do they really capture the details, the emotions? As such, I have decided to once again commit to preserving my memories thanks to this book.

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