Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Near the beginning of the book, one of the characters describes historical questions by noting "we need to know the history of the historian in order to understand the version that is being put in front of us."  This is Adrian Finn, the bright one of a group of four English school boys with the one putting history in front of us being Tony Webster.  The story moves quickly (163 pages in the paperback version) through Tony's life and yet we don't start to understand it until the last page.  Then you want to go back to some spots to see if the story still hangs together, which of course it does.  Tony is an inaccurate teller of history, not because he is dishonest but just because he is human.  His own history is colored by his emotions and so he doesn't fully know the history of the historian.  Things that he was certain of at 25 look different at 60.  Isn't that always the case?
The book is another Man Booker Prize winner and is a beautiful, subtly written look at a life and how what you think you know as the life is being lived changes over time even though the facts of the event are unchangeable.  It's an easy read yet complex.  You could read this one in a day and then go back and read it again.  I'd recommend it to all the family.  It was recommended to me by Jackie.

No comments: