The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending

By Julian Barnes

  • Release Date: 2011-10-05
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4
From 1,203 Ratings


Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize

By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse.
This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.
A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre.


  • Very mixed feelings on this one

    By Kiwidaughter
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautifully written and I found it compelling. Some of the passages and observations were so well said that I want to go back just to ponder them. My issue is with the reveal and the ending. We all say things we later regret and we all, with the passage of time, gain context on events, and choose to remember things in the most favorable (to us) fashion possible. We all reinvent our own past to some degree. Without spoilers, I’ll just say that the reveal is more of an odd “uh, oh-kaaay” moment than some sort of revelation wherein we see that blame for subsequent events falls on the narrator’s early (immature/hasty/ ill-advised/ angry) words. For as well written as it was I thought the ending would be a lot more consequential .
  • Disapointed

    By Bicimadrid
    Normally I dont write reviews. This time I felt compelled to comment mainly because I felt very dissapointed. I believed that some great truth about life was going to be revealed. Not so. The book is actually very well written, but is a flow of retrospective analisis that led nowhere and unraveled a story that is of no consequence (at least to me).
  • The mirror deceives and beguiles, the window can tell the truth

    By SteadyDancing
    It's true for all of us that our perceptions of self are skewed, our memories misleading and false, our stories incomplete and our hearts betrayed by the mind that guides it. This story shows one on a human level with the emotions hurt/pain/longing/lust/love/desire/remorse as the reader's vehicle for soulfully understanding this truth and realizing that short-sightedness and blind ambition have consequences. I found the book insightful and the character development to be admirable. Philosophical inquisitions are graced with brief moments of poetic beauty. The method of presentation was slightly difficult to fall into a flow at the commencement of reading, but soon leads the reader to be attached and invested in the characters even when a character disguises their true nature or intentions — eventually the characters are understood and respected.
  • Long wind up for little payoff.

    By Lisa Lefebvre
    Tedious detail that builds up to something supposedly shocking. But not.
  • Sense of an Ending

    By Emmet Aloysius
    One of the best books in the last two years! EAF
  • Enigmatic

    By acreads
    Hmmm... I just finished this book and I'm afraid I don't really get it. It's not that I don't understand what happened, it's just that I'm not sure the plot deserved so many pages. There's something about the prose and the thoughtful, routine, Stewart O'Nan-like focus on prosaic life that's appealing, but the final reveal left me feeling kind of empty - i.e. I read all that for that?
  • Humbling

    By ShavliMa
    All of the most complimentary adjectives apply here. Sneakily beautiful, harsh, compelling, must-read. Barnes writes of both youth and late middle age so believably...and the mystery at the novel's heart is a lingering taunt.
  • Regrets anyone?

    By Isobel92111
    This book should be read by anyone over 40 (50 or 60 even better). It has such a powerful writing! Its English is astonishing. It's about memories, regrets, life, future, ... I loved this book. But maybe it's just because it came at the perfect moment.
  • Great Read

    By koranda
    I don't read often but found this hard to put down. Enjoyed the thoughts it provoked.
  • The sense of an ending

    By Loui11
    Did I miss something? The main character felt guilty because he suggested his friend contact his girlfriends mother 40 years ago. The friend then got the mother pregnant and committed suicide? Please tell me I missed he point.