Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: "The Sense of an Ending"

It seems I’m always a bit late to the party when it comes to the work of compelling authors (or just entertaining storytellers.)  As a teacher, school principal and curriculum director, I used gallons of ink and reams of paper promoting literacy to the parents of my students.  “Get ‘em to read and they’ll be more successful in school!” I’d repeat and repeat and repeat.  But, it seems, I spent very little time actually reading stuff myself.  Thus, the Julian Barneses of the world have been out there writing for decades and I randomly stumble across their work while killing time in a bookstore. 

Better late than never.

“The Sense of an Ending” shares the story of an about-my-age Brit named Anthony.  He finds himself reflecting on a long-ago past prompted by the late mother of a nearly forgotten flame who has remembered him in her will.  Starting with prep school chums (whose names, if changed, could have been high school pals of mine), through the failed flings, affairs and tragedies of youth (who hasn’t experienced ‘em?), Barnes gives us Tony looking into a mirror of personal history fractured by time.  Tony has lived a take-pains-to-harm-no-one type of life, apparently, we find out – actually, devastatingly, he finds out – not so successfully.

I finished “Ending” wondering whether all mirrors to the past are similarly fractured or just Tony’s mirror and my own.


“The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes.  Vintage Books. 2011.  $15.00.  See your local, independent book seller.

© 2014
Church of the Open Road Press

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