A brilliant short novel from a writer at the very height of his powers
Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories, Cross Channel, The Lemon Table and Pulse; four collections of essays; and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times Number One bestseller Levels of Life. He lives in London.
In Barnes's (Flaubert's Parrot) latest, winner of the 2011 Man-Booker Prize, protagonist Tony Webster has lived an average life with an unremarkable career, a quiet divorce, and a calm middle age. Now in his mid-60s, his retirement is thrown into confusion when he's bequeathed a journal that belonged to his brilliant school-friend, Adrian, who committed suicide 40 years earlier at age 22. Though he thought he understood the events of his youth, he's forced to radically revise what he thought he knew about Adrian, his bitter parting with his mysterious first lover Veronica, and reflect on how he let life pass him by safely and predictably. Barnes's spare and luminous prose splendidly evokes the sense of a life whose meaning (or meaninglessness) is inevitably defined by "the sense of an ending" which only death provides. Despite its focus on the blindness of youth and the passage of time, Barnes's book is entirely unpretentious. From the haunting images of its first pages to the surprising and wrenching finale, the novel carries readers with sensitivity and wisdom through the agony of lost time. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
When we look back on our lives, what do we remember from our experiences? Tony's story starts and finishes with his school chums, one of whom commits suicide during his college years, and his first girlfriend. When he is contacted by someone from 40 years in his past, he must reexamine events, memories, causes, and results. The pacing is steady and the insights poignant, although the ending is a bit contrived. Narrator Richard Morant moves smoothly between the awkward, loud voice of an English schoolboy, the all-knowing college student, and the resigned elder. VERDICT Barnes's 14th book and winner of the Man Booker Prize, this short novel will best appeal to readers of introspective literature. [The Knopf hc, published in October, was a New York Times best seller.-Ed.]-J. Sara Paulk, Wythe-Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"An extremely moving, a precise book about the imprecision of memory and how it constructs people, stories and histories." -- Alasitair Bruce Guardian "Intriguing and engaging." -- David Robb Daily Express "Packs quite an emotional punch... Julian Barnes unravels the mystery with masterly skill. He springs surprise after surprise without stooping to sensationalism in a crisp, engaging tale" -- Max Davidson Daily Mail "Written in beautifully cadenced prose, it is a mature writer's reflections on love and marriage... on family and friendship, on work and death" Time Out "There is no catastrophe, simply a dawning awareness of the past, its consequences and its meaning for the present. It is a familiar narrative structure, but in the hands of the master-wordsmith that Barnes has become, the effect is cumulatively overwhelming... A compelling, disturbing and profoundly moving story of human fallibility" -- Daniel Johnson Standpoint