06 November 2011

The Sense of an Ending; Julian Barnes

The Sense of an EndingThe Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What responsibility does a suicide have to those left behind? Why would someone choose not to fulfill the terms of a will? How does memory play tricks on, and inform, our memory? Those are some of the questions that Barnes asks, and to some extent answers, in this book (it's more like a novella than a novel, only 150 pages).

Tony's not the swiftest, most introspective or intuitive of people - he's rather ordinary, to be honest. Ditto his friends Colin and Alex, but when Adrian joins their little group he's pushed to be just a little bit more. He goes to university, meets Veronica, meets her family, they break up, he continues on with his life to a career in arts management, a wife whom he'll divorce, a daughter he'll love but be slightly estranged from... and then he gets left 500 pounds and two documents by Veronica's mother. Years earlier, Veronica and Adrian had started dating (after the break-up with Tony) and then Adrian committed suicide.

Tony's left wondering why he was left the money and the documents; one is a letter from Veronica's mother and the other is Adrian's diary, still with Veronica, who isn't giving it to Tony as per her mother's will. His quest to retrieve his "legacy" leads him to delve into his past, to wonder about relationships and his ability to figure out what the truth about history really is.

Suffice it to say that I'm left thinking about my past and about the "damage" that occurred then, and how to deal with that now. Unintentionally, reading this has answered some of the questions I've been asking - and isn't that the best possible result from reading a book?

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