Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending was certainly more pleasurable to read than my previous book. It’s a mystery of memory and missed opportunity. Unlike Diaz’s book though, the penmanship in this novel is much more substantial, creative, and almost philosophical.
Tony is a 60-something aged retiree who led a rather steady and successful life. He’s divorced but maintains a close relationship with his ex and admits that she is still the only one who understands him. One day, he unexpectedly receives 500 EUP as a bequest from a woman he had met once and forty years earlier. She was the mother of Tony’s college girlfriend Veronica. The settlement forces Tony to get back in touch with Veronica — someone he had consciously abandoned many decades ago — to seek certainty to the unresolved legacy.
The pursuit to reconnect with his past not only brings him back to the most unpredictable discovery of answers but it also unveils some truths that astoundingly affects his life now, which he was unaware of at a younger age. It’s as if Barnes wanted me to revisit adolescence twice so I could pick up answers and explanations that were missed or misunderstood before, in my adolescent years. It’s an awakening and refreshing. I began to think about the interpretations I had then, and how it has evolved. Maybe aging is defined by how we interpret things… Of course Tony’s interpretations aren’t excavated from seamless memory. And it’s Tony’s passion and persistence to be true to the impressions of the facts left that bring such heart-warming appeal to his characterization.
The Sense of an Ending is a short read, but it is compact with vignettes that are thought-provoking and wise. Definitely a thumbs-up.