The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2011
From my library hold list. Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize.
Tony Webster has reached retirement. His marriage ended in an amicable divorce and he is ready to enjoy his later years when, out of nowhere, his past comes to meet him.
Before reading The Sense of an Ending I had only read one novel by Julian Barnes, Arthur & George.
This new one it is very different, one that I wanted to read in one sitting and, when finished, knew I wanted to read again. It is elegant, sometimes funny and always disturbing, offering insights into youthful mistakes, loss and memory. It is a mystery, deeply emotional and psychological. It feels true.
I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not, except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbors, companions? And then there is the question, on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless and the ones to be careful of. From page 48.
What Barnes tell us is that what may save us is telling each other what we think is the truth, what we think we know. This is a beautiful, devastating novel. I do want to read it again.
It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old we invent different pasts for others. From page 88.