A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
With the exception of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Joanne Harris’ Chocolat, I rarely give up on a book, with Julian Barnes’ A Sense of an Ending I came close.
I was allured by the mysterious and dark front cover and the fact it was emblazoned with ‘Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2011’. What’s not to like I thought. In this case you should definitely NOT judge a book by its cover.
From the first few pages it felt like a Modernist text and something that I would have been made to read as part of my degree and as that ship has long since sailed, I did not want to be reminded of some of the drudgery I had to read.
The story is an autobiographical account of Tony, who recounts his privileged school boy days, his first sexual encounters and the ambivalence of new boy Adrian. Tony’s life then descends into chaos when Adrian commits suicide. From this Tony considers his own life, the mistakes he has made and how he wishes things could have been different.
Whilst it can sometimes be comforting to read about a character’s social awkwardness and anxiety such as the endearing individuals in Brideshead Revisited, I found myself getting mad at Tony. He struggles to differentiate between past and present as he moronically emails his ex-girlfriend Veronica everyday like a love struck teenager. He also questions even the most mundane aspects of life such as why chips are called hand cut if they are not actually cut by an individual but a machine.
At times, as pompous as this sounds, I felt I had a better outlook on life than the sixty year old Tony; sometimes we should sit back and not question every minute detail of the world, unsolved mysteries are sometimes beautiful. The final line in the novel: ‘There is great unrest’ suggests that Tony will never truly realise this.
I have recently turned twenty two (boohoo) and I had absolutely no connection to Tony or his thoughts, maybe if I was older I could appreciate Tony’s nostalgic view on life however as I am just starting a new chapter in my life I pitied him for being so confused and sombre. To put it frankly I could not wait for this book to end.