In the High Peaks

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This Week: Investigating Julian Barnes

I'm halfway through The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2011. I'm enjoying it immensely. I highly recommend it, though I imagine the novel might have the greatest appeal for those born in the post-World War II era, who came of age in the late 1960s and 1970s. (If you disagree with this observation, please set me straight!)

This is the first I've read of Barnes, so I started touring around the web searching for information about more of his works. His website makes for a lively visit--I especially like the long list of links to interviews. I definitely would like to try more of his novels.

I find Webster, the main character, annoying from age 30 onwards. In the long first chapter, he and his wry observations and habits, his relationships with school friends, girl friends, and his wife and daughter interested me. But in Chapter 2, he announces in a number of different ways that he has retired from life, and although he doesn't say it, it's clear he's waiting for the end. He's so complacent, viewing life lugubriously from afar. Thankfully for readers, he's rescued by a mysterious inheritance from his first girlfriend's mother, which includes a diary penned by a school friend who committed suicide a few years after winning a first at Cambridge.

I'm hoping to squeeze in a great deal of reading time over the next few days. I've got lots of books on board. Stay tuned for the new (hopefully regular) Saturday morning post.


  1. This was one of my favourite reads of 2011. It's subtly written with a mystery at the heart of the story (which is probably why I liked it). I'll be interested to hear what you think of it when you've finished.

  2. Hi, Sarah,
    I'm *still* trying to get back to wrapping up my impressions of The Sense of an Ending. So many excellent quotes! I have finally figured out how to use the Nook highlighting feature.

    Yes, I agree with you, the mystery kept me enthralled. Yet I was also curious what Barnes would do with Tony Webster. He appeared so banal on the surface, I figured something would have to happen to shake him up!

    Happy reading!