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The Sense of an Ending - October 2022 Book Club Reading

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
The Sense of an Ending is a 2011 novel written by British author Julian Barnes. The book is Barnes's eleventh novel written under his own name and was released in August 2011.

The Sense of an Ending is narrated by a retired man named Tony Webster, who recalls how he and his clique met Adrian Finn at school and vowed to remain friends for life. When the past catches up with Tony, he reflects on the paths he and his friends have taken.

In October 2011, the book was awarded the Booker Prize. A film adaptation of the same name made its world premiere as the opening film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in Palm Springs, California in January 2017. The limited US release began in March of the same year.
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I just got my copy of this from the library. I'm hoping to get to it but this is one busy month for me. Has anyone else picked it up? Have thoughts?
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Oh dang, I forgot about the book club. This sounds solid (the Booker Prize is always a good sign). I've got a bunch of holds at the library already but I'll put one out for this too, hopefully I can get to it before the month's out.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Huh, I just got this on my Kindle and when it opened I discovered I already read this, back in 2011? Apparently I gave it four stars but didn't make any detailed comments about it on Goodreads. I'm curious to start reading and jog my memory.
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I finished last night. I'll hold off on comments for a few days in order to allow others to finish. I enjoyed it But, I do have questions...
 
Huh, I just got this on my Kindle and when it opened I discovered I already read this, back in 2011? Apparently I gave it four stars but didn't make any detailed comments about it on Goodreads. I'm curious to start reading and jog my memory.

This is actually a little funny, given the content of the novel. (Not reading it now, but I also read it close to when it came out...)
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I should be picking up my copy from the library tomorrow, assuming it doesn't take longer than expected to arrive.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
This is actually a little funny, given the content of the novel. (Not reading it now, but I also read it close to when it came out...)
Ha, yep, memory jogged and while it probably would have been funnier if I'd remembered entirely different things happening (not really a spoiler but related the overall theme of the book in a way that hints at later parts) it's still pretty good.

I do have to note that it did take a while to remember the book. The conversation with Veronica's mother in the kitchen seemed vaguely familiar but it was Adrian's suicide that finally made me go "oh, right, this book!". A lot of the first section is just typical British boys in school stuff and wasn't unique enough to remind me I think.

I finished last night. I'll hold off on comments for a few days in order to allow others to finish. I enjoyed it But, I do have questions...
Still haven't finished my reread yet but pretty sure I'll be joining you in questions when I do.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Finished the reread, I like the book and would recommend it, but I do think it gets bogged down at some points. But the book moves at such a brisk pace overall even the slow points are fine and over quickly. It's an interesting look at how people think of themselves and others and how easily memory can be warped and assumptions can be made.

Structurally as a story one thing that bothered me is that Veronica is way too angry and dismissive as a character. I feel like she's supposed to be compared to Margaret (who I think is a great character) but Veronica keeps up the antagonistic, controlling and unhelpful personality traits to a degree that seemed completely overdone by the end of it. I feel she could have been better written and a more interesting character if she had a bit more nuance to her. Even though so much of the plot is about arguing with her it just seemed outright silly and that she was a convenient way to put up a roadblock. It seems like there's supposed to be some interpretation of her pain and anger in her family in there but it didn't hit for me.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Finished the reread, I like the book and would recommend it, but I do think it gets bogged down at some points. But the book moves at such a brisk pace overall even the slow points are fine and over quickly. It's an interesting look at how people think of themselves and others and how easily memory can be warped and assumptions can be made.

Structurally as a story one thing that bothered me is that Veronica is way too angry and dismissive as a character. I feel like she's supposed to be compared to Margaret (who I think is a great character) but Veronica keeps up the antagonistic, controlling and unhelpful personality traits to a degree that seemed completely overdone by the end of it. I feel she could have been better written and a more interesting character if she had a bit more nuance to her. Even though so much of the plot is about arguing with her it just seemed outright silly and that she was a convenient way to put up a roadblock. It seems like there's supposed to be some interpretation of her pain and anger in her family in there but it didn't hit for me.
I finished this last night and I agree with everything you said here, VV. I also didn't really feel like the ending accomplished a lot aside from being a very unexpected twist. There's only a couple of pages for the reader to process that Adrian slept with Veronica's mother, and while knowing that information explains Veronica's behavior, I feel like it was a missed opportunity to cast the earlier parts of the book in a different light. It didn't really do much outside of providing context for Veronica-as-antagonist.

Another book with similar themes (hagiography, memory, family, etc) that I really enjoyed was last year's A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris. It might've been one of my favorite books from last year, come to think of it. Maybe it'd be a decent candidate for next year's book club?
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Another book with similar themes (hagiography, memory, family, etc) that I really enjoyed was last year's A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris. It might've been one of my favorite books from last year, come to think of it. Maybe it'd be a decent candidate for next year's book club?
I haven't heard of this, thanks! And also I'm excited to pick next year's books, haven't even thought about that yet but always fun to go through books and make a list of what I want to read for these.
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I'm conflicted. The book is divided into two parts. The first one seems to be a reflection on the flaws of memory, the desire to make oneself the 'hero' of a story. The second part seems to want to show us how no one is the hero in a story. But, it still presents every other character as near ciphers. Whose actions make no sense.

I was hoping for more clarity. But, I guess what the author wanted to show was that even when presented with the fact that our life is a fiction we maintain and continue to build said fiction
 
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