The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

74 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.

That’s right. It’s 1/3/12, and I am posting blog entries today for my 2011 book challenge. I’m a little behind. I have several more books that I finished in 2011 but never blogged about, though. I’m going to try to finish them up today and see if maybe I can manage to move on to 2012 a few days late.

The Sense of an Ending won the 2011 Man Booker Prize, and this is a well deserved honor. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The story itself is fairly ordinary. A man reflects on events from 40 years in his past. He broke up with a college girlfriend. She started seeing one of his closest school friends. There was a general falling out. His friend committed suicide. Years later he learned there was more to the story than he’d ever known.

That could be the plot of any garden variety thriller, yet it is transformed into a prize-winning piece of literature by the philosophical reflections on time, memory, and human motivations woven throughout the story. They are really quite extraordinary.

There is a mystery that unravels through the course of the narrative about the death of the friend, but the real mystery is the protagonist himself. To understand what happened in the past, he has to understand himself — or, conversely, he has to understand how very much there is he cannot understand about himself.

Lovely writing. Beautifully thoughtful prose. This one is a must read.