The Sense of an Ending

Julian Barnes latest novel is as exceptionally written as you'd expect

The Sense of an Ending
Julian Barnes

4/5
Random House

It’s tempting to compare Julian Barnes’ latest book with his 1984 masterpiece, Flaubert’s Parrot. Both are told by lonely, highly-educated narrators past retirement age, both deal with romantic remorse from a position of confused helplessness, and both have a mystery at the heart of the story that slowly unravels.

They’re also both beautifully written, but then that’s something of a given. Each of his books features marvellous control of language and an exquisite sense of pacing – the latter of which is particularly important here.

Tony Webster and his two lifelong buddies meet the brilliant Adrian Finn in high school and become close friends. Yet things change for the quartet in their university days as distance takes its toll, while Webster has a brief relationship with the forthright Veronica Ford, who later takes up with Adrian – who commits suicide. A lifetime later, with a failed marriage behind him, Webster is remembered in the will of Veronica’s mother, mysteriously bequeathing him Adrian’s diary. And thus old wounds are opened, with the difference between the past we have and the past we remember laid out in near-surgical detail.

It’s a strange, slight story, given weight by exceptional writing, showing that a solid Barnes book is head and shoulders above the best efforts of most contemporary fiction writers.

Be the first to get all the latest Dubai news, reviews and deals into your inbox by signing up to our free newsletter, click here to sign up.

More from Time In

Essential tech gadgets for travelers

We’ve got classics, books fresh off the press and those that might spark and interest before or after seeing the screen version

Things to do during the summer heat in Dubai

Time Out meets the outspoken columnist and novelist

Newsletters

Follow us