The Sense of an Ending won the Man Booker Prize in 2011 and it is easy to tell why. Two days after reading it, I still have the characters living in my mind and I am still attempting to come to terms with the shocking ending.
As I read, Barnes conjured up a very familiar scene; the sexual mores of the sixties. First we meet a group of four fantasizing and exaggerating young intellectuals at their boys only school. Adrian is the brightest and earns a scholarship to Cambridge but we follow Tony and live with him his relationship with Veronica. She is holding back; he is frustrated and we live through a weekend when he is invited to her house sharing his reactions.
We suspect that we are with an unreliable narrator but when Adrian becomes Veronica’s ‘item’ he tells us of the post card and letter he writes and we feel that that part of his life is over.
Tony moves on forty years, through a marriage, a child, a divorce; it is difficult to see how this novel could lead to a dramatic conclusion. But it does! It is a slender volume, quietly and convincingly narrated, which leaves the reader stunned.