The Sense of an Ending

A novel by Julian Barnes.

Julian Barnes

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they navigated the girl drought of gawky adolescence together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they swore to stay friends forever. Until Adrian's life took a turn into tragedy, and all of them, especially Tony, moved on and did their best to forget.

Now Tony is in middle age. He's had a career and a marriage, a calm divorce. He gets along nicely, he thinks, with his one child, a daughter, and even with his ex-wife. 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. The unexpected bequest conveyed by that letter leads Tony on a dogged search through a past suddenly turned murky. And how do you carry on, contentedly, when events conspire to upset all your vaunted truths? (From Vintage Canada)

From the book

I remember, in no particular order:

— a shiny inner wrist;

— steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;

— gouts of sperm circling a plughole, before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house; 

— a river rushing nonsensically upstream, its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torchbeams; 

— bathwater long gone cold behind a locked door.

This last isn't something I actually saw, but what you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed.


From The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes ©2011. Published by Vintage Canada.