Some great experiences happen just by chance. So it was with the book The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. Saturday noon, I dropped by the library looking for a book. I could not find it, but picked this one since the doctor had it on his list. The Mrs discovered a quiet reading room in the library and wanted to spend the day there. It was actually pin-drop silent (no electronic devices allowed), had luxurious seats and was filled with folks who were reading quite seriously. I ended up having a fantastic reading experience and was able to finish off most of the book in literally one long sitting.
I like books and movies that focus on a few well fleshed-out characters and details. This book was just that! It is two recollections by the narrator. The first recollection is around his mid-20s. He describes his high school life, his three close friends and his first short-lived love after he joins university. The second recollection is in his old age. He has had a marriage, a child and a divorce. Life comes full circle and he is forced to mull over and act on his old memories and the loose ends are quite tragically tied up.
After reading this book, I am kind of embarassed that I had not heard of Julian Barnes earlier. That is because the quality of writing in this book is nothing short of fantastic. Especially the first part of the book, which is just exceptional. There are many great passages that you chew over, re-read and think of sharing later but give up since there are so many of them. The characters are so well etched that they remain memorable even after you are done with the book. The plot is actually a bit weak, especially the ending. But boy can Barnes squeeze a tale out of it! I ended up reminiscing a lot about my past life while reading the book and many good novels do that to you.
The Sense of an Ending is a great read, a book I highly recommend. It is also pretty short and since it is almost un-put-downable, can be easily finished in a day. If you are looking for some brilliant literature look no further.