THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by JULIAN BARNES.
Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove.
...... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): I remember, in no particular order:
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 14): We knew from our reading of great literature that Love involved Suffering, and would happily have got in some practice at Suffering if there was an implicit, perhaps even logical, promise that Love might be on its way.
MY THOUGHTS: Given that I'm generally left feeling disappointed by prize winning literature (this won the Man Booker Prize in 2011) I found this much more enjoyable than I had expected, for a book of only 150 pages the author packed such a lot in. My only real criticism, apart from the occasional use of a certain crude word, being that whilst I surprisingly connected with the relationship between the male characters and in particular that between Tony and Adrian, I was left emotionally cold by that of Tony and Veronica.
Ending with the story of Tony Webster as a not altogether likeable middle class somewhat obsessive late-middle-aged man, the book actually begins with Tony as a teenage school boy, friend of three, soon to be four, other boys.
Though personally not too enamoured with the ending, this was never the less a beautifully written story all about relationships, the reliability of memory as we age, guilt, love, loss, and regret - in other words a story about the human condition.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: A readers group read, I have no intention of buying a copy.