This book won the Man Booker prize in 2011 and has also been made into a movie. I stumbled upon it because my friend Gopal mentioned it on FB when the movie was released sometime in 2016. I was intrigued by the title so bought the book.
The first thing that caught me by complete surprise was the richness of the language. Most of the modern fiction writers use “everyday” words. This was different. And the mystery is so deep that you “get” it only when you turn the last page. Even if you were to do the childhood trick of reading the last few pages after reading the first few pages, you still won’t solve the mystery. That’s fascinating and kudos to the author, Julian Barnes for writing that way.
But still, the book is not a page turner. There is some effort you need to take to read it. I guess that’s because, the main protagonist Tony is almost a philosopher even though his actions are age appropriate and just show average intelligence. On the other hand Adrian, doesn’t come across as all that brilliant maybe because he dies too soon. Veronica is a character that you will love and hate and love again … just like all of us, there are endearing qualities and terrible qualities in her. I couldn’t figure out why Tony’s marriage breaks up, except maybe he was too boring. So making sense of all their lives is a bit of a task because all the characters surprise you with some of their actions.
Some sentences and paragraphs that caught my attention –
‘Indeed, isn’t the whole business of ascribing responsibility a kind of cop-out? We want to blame an individual so that everyone else is exculpated. Or we blame a historical process as a way of exonerating individuals. Or it’s all anarchic chaos, with the same consequence. It seems to me that there is –was –a chain of individual responsibilities, all of which were necessary, but not so long a chain that everybody can simply blame everyone else. But of course, my desire to ascribe responsibility might be more a reflection of my own cast of mind than a fair analysis of what happened. That’s one of the central problems of history, isn’t it, sir? The question of subjective versus objective interpretation, the fact that we need to know the history of the historian in order to understand the version that is being put in front of us.’
“It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others.”
A new word that I learnt was “lucubrations” – it’s a noun which means “writing or study”.
I am presuming that the following statement is what the author has had as his central theme and built the entire book around – “Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving, however long it takes, that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Interesting book and definitely worth reading. Here’s my tag line – you can’t sense the ending of “the sense of an ending”. :):)