Book Review: Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending


This intense novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about – until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre.
– Goodreads

Published in 2012 by Vintage
Softcover, 150 pages


This is the second time that I’ve read this book. As the above summary suggests, both times that I have read this book, I have felt compelled to read this book in a single sitting. This novel is totally unputdownable, even on the second read.

Sense of an Ending is a short book, with just 50 pages and could even be described as a novella. It didn’t feel like reading a novella, even though it was a quick read. So much happened to the main character Tony, as the story followed from adolescence to his old age. At the end of the book, I felt that I was friends of all characters, which was unexpected, considering the short length of the book.

Today, when I pick this book up, the first thing I notice, other than the fantastic cover, is how it still looks brand new. To flick through the pages is to see the pages of a book that has been read in such a short time, that the pages are still very stiff, as though I have just brought it home from the book store.

The end of Sense of an Ending, has caused lots of discussion amongst readers. I would love to write my opinion here, but would hate to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it yet. I will leave it up to you to decide.

I loved and still love this book I enjoyed the story line, the characters and I especially loved the writing. I just know that I will definitely read this book again.


“A masterpiece….I would urge you to read and re-read The Sense of an Ending”
Daily Telegraph

“A precise, poignant , portrait of the costs and benefits of time passing, of friendship, of love. A masterpiece” – Erica Wagner, The Times

STAR RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize— Flaubert’s Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Following an education at the City of London School and Merton College, Oxford, he worked as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. Subsequently, he worked as a literary editor and film critic. He now writes full-time. – Goodreads

All books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library, unless otherwise stated.

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Next Phase In Fitness & Life
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#AtoZChallenge W: We were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates


#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.


The Mulvaneys of High Point Farm in Mount Ephraim, New York, are a large happy family, who have been blessed with good looks and a happy, future full of certainty. But as time evolves, things don’t go to plan for the Mulvaneys. On Valentine’s Day in 1976, an incident, involving a member of the family, causes upset and reverberation through the family for the rest of their lives.

The story spans twenty five years, and is told years later by Judd, the youngest son, as he attempts to make sense of the past and the events that destroyed his happy family.

My Thoughts

We Are The Mulvaneys is a story of the rise and fall of a family. Of how quickly the perfect life can become a tragic life. The first few chapters contain quite long character introductions, which some may find tedious as I did at first. But they grew on me, and later in the book, I was thankful for such thorough introductions, as they helped me understand why certain characters did what they did, and why they reacted the way they did to unexpected circumstances.


It was the title that had me hooked immediately, making me want to read this book. We WERE the Mulvaney’s. Why ‘were’? Immediately I wanted to know more about what happened to this family.

I say every reader out there should read this book, but I may be biased because I love love this story of the Mulvaney family. I was totally enthralled from start to finish and couldn’t get enough of this slightly wacky family and their wacky ways. Perhaps this book means more to me because of events beyond my control that destroyed my own happy family life. I did feel a connection and sympathy towards the Mulvanney Mum, even though many times, I felt like shaking her and telling her to wake up and do something to bring her family back together. 

“It is a book that will break your heart, heal it, then break it again” – Los Angeles Times
“One of our most audaciously talented writers: – Erica Jong
“Novelists such as John Updike, Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer slug it out for the title of the Great American Novelist. But maybe they are wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman” – The Herald

Star Rating 4.5 star

About The Author

Oates in 2014


Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific American author, born in 1938. Her first novel was published in 1962 and she has since published a further 42 book. She has won many American and international awards for her writing and her books. We Were The Mulvaneys became a best seller after being selected as an Oprah’s Book Club book.

Published by Harper Perennial, Harper Collins Publishers in 2007.
First published by Fourth Estate in 2001. Paperback – 454 pages

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

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#AtoZChallenge U: Untold Story by Monica Ali

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.



The most famous woman in the world.
Her death mourned by millions.
What if she hadn’t died after all…..?

What if Princess Diana didn’t die? Her seemingly idyllic life was both nightmare and fairytale. She may have been living a priveleged life, but she often felt lonely and trapped. Could she have been tempted to take the opportunity to start her life over again, but this time live her life quietly, and out of the spotlight of the media glare.

Fictional English Princess Lydia, thought someone was plotting to assassinate her, so she decides to stage her own death and and start a new life in a quiet area of Midwest America. Life abroad goes well for her, as she makes Kensington her new home. She makes many new friends but she cannot forget the family she left behind.

Unexpectedly, she has an encounter with paparazzi and the new life, and her anonymity, that she has worked so hard to create for herself, are put under threat and she wonders if she will ever be able to put her past behind her.

My Thoughts

The topic and plot of this story drew me to it. However, I didn’t enjoy the way the story went from the present day, where it is narrated by Lydia and the photographer who is sure he knows her real identity, to the butler in her past, who helped her to disappear. The story is also told from the letters that Lydia wrote to the butler ten years earlier.

I was irritated by the way the chapters seemed to jump back and forward from past to future and to the letters.  This spoiled my enjoyment of the book. The premise and plot could have made an engrossing read, but the style that this book was written in, just didn’t do it for me.

My rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Monica Ali


Monica Ali is a British writer and novelist, born in Bangladesh.  When she was three years old, her family moved to England, where she still lives today with her husband and children.


First published in Great Britain by Doubleday, 2011.
This edition published by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2012. Paperback, 342 pages


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