BOOKREVIEW#75 The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

My book reviews and features are chronicles of my exploration of the many worlds that go beyond every flipping page. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts in the form of my Book to Basics posts, and should you wish to read more, please visit my Book Reviews main page where I have linked previous bookish stories. Please join my private Book Club on Facebook.

The day I met Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, was also the day I met The Sense of an Ending, a best seller that tackles loss, life, damages and gains in a forlorn yet beautifully crafted manner. I have to admit, I find guilty pleasure in reading stories that reek of bitterness and solitude.

Moving forward, this Julian Barnes novel caught my eye like a stubborn unforgotten ex seen from the distance. I picked my copy of the book from Fully Booked Fort because I had a long wait to go and my my my, this book kept on pulling me in.

A dear friend of mine, Sophie of, told me that girls have a way of outgrowing exes. We were talking about this viral video when we ended up brushing on the "ex" box. I agreed with her primarily because I believe that in heartbreaks, considering the depth the shadows of grief, there's no way to go but up.

Growth, learning and reformation are things that emerges from the dusts of a loss--if we choose to keep light. Otherwise, the other end of the spectrum introduces bitterness, anger and stagnation, worse, regression. It's not easy to hurt, and never will it be so. No matter how learned or numbed we make ourselves to be, endings sting, all the more if what ended was good or valued.
Can you guess which book dedication this is?

Here are some of my favorite notes from The Sense of an Ending. This particular one, hails quite important thoughts.

I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not, except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbors, companions? And then there is the question, on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.

This next quote reminds me of how I recently felt a strangling oddness towards people who are greatly self-entitled.
Later on in life, you expect a bit of rest, don't you? You think you deserve it. I did, anyway. But then you begin to understand that the reward of merit is not life's business.

Then of course, how can I not note this down.
You get towards the end of life--no, not life itself, but of something else; the end of any likelihood of change in that life. You are allowed a long moment of pause, time enough to ask the question: what else have I done wrong? ... There is accumulation. There is responsibility. And beyond these, there is unrest. There is great unrest.

The Sense of an Ending to me was that. A painful reminder of how my losses haunt me from time to time. How the relationships that formed me are still forming me as I go. There is guilt and shame from the weary corners of my heart, all from realizing I could have been more graceful, careful and kind if I tried harder. There is anger and viciousness from the darkest sections of my soul, for I begrudgingly kill some people within the confines of my thoughts.

But at the end of the day, I only find the finite faces of these memories. The tarnished frames of wishes and dreams continue to rust. And I suppose there is good in that. We just have to make sense and understand the core of every emotion. Then maybe, just maybe, Sundays may soon enough be every day.

Let me ask you, how do you find closure?

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  1. The book is a worthy winner. It deconstructs the romanticism built around the concepts of 'memory' and 'nostalgia'. It is a book divided into two parts. The first part is a memory told by the protagonist. The second part is the anti-thesis. The memory receives a setback. And it is interestingly narrated. The end is poignant.


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