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“But it’s still the eyes we look at, isn’t it? That’s where we found the other person, and find them still.”

The Sense of an Ending ~ Julian Barnes

Seldom before have I been made this excitable with the beginning of a book. Barnes writes smoothly, makes you laugh, lectures you on life, makes you feel slightly stupid too when you have to re-read some of the sentences to truly grasp their meaning. Ultimately, however, you remain engrossed in the seemingly ordinary story, because the characters are relatable and you’ve been laughing to yourself the whole way.

The story is quite simple really, it’s being told from memory by Tony Webster who recalls his youth, his childhood friends, and his boyhood romances. If you’ve read or watched ‘Starter for Ten’ by David Nicholls, you’ll realise towards the beginning of this slim novella that this is just a smarter and better written version of a similar sort of plot. Until it’s not.

I’m not quite certain if this book was meant to be written as a mystery because it wasn’t to me. I’ve read reviews where readers claim that they didn’t see the ending coming, but honestly if one has, like me, watched several ‘Drama/Romances’ in their time, and have been reading a book a week, one doesn’t need a particularly creative brain to guess what the outcome is going to be. And if you don’t guess the ending, you can be satisfied that the book did its job of shocking you.

What I’m trying to say is that this book is well written, I recommend it, but it needs to be read for reading’s sake, for the beauty and fun of it and not with the expectation of a big revelation.

Why you should read it:

  • The book is a slow tease, an enjoyable read
  • If you like a quiet well-written book
  • If you are prepared to not expect a big shocking reveal in the end

Why you shouldn’t read it:

  • If you’re expecting likeable characters
  • If you like complex plots and lengthy narratives