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The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes Tony Webster is a quiet young man, not much influenced by the subtleties of life’s experiences. He is not confrontational and would not be described as a man of great passion. He pretty much accepts life as it comes along and doesn’t look for hidden messages.
As a student in the sixties, he and his friends are typical youths. It is a decade of discovery; innocence is being redefined and the new freedoms that are being explored can have dangerous consequences. When a fellow student commits suicide, because he gets a girl into trouble and cannot face the responsibility, Tony and his friends, Colin, Alex and Adrian, discuss the philosophy of the deed in a cerebral, rather than emotional way. Intellectually, Adrian is the brightest bulb and he analyzes the issue for them; life should be lived and ended well.
When Adrian also commits suicide, Tony and his friends agree he executed his suicide well, but they are forced to try and understand the incomprehensible nature of such an act. Why would Adrian commit such an act of desperation? Will they divine the answer?
In this brief, well executed story, in which no word is wasted, the memories of Tony Webster are explored as is the unreliability of memories, in general; the false conclusions they may lead to are examined. Although we move on and forget some of the more radical and even heinous aspects of our youthful behavior, others may bear the burden of their effects as life goes on. A careless word, a cruel note, a heartless remark, may leave our consciousness only to land in someone else’s with profound consequences.
The book explores suicide, the execution of the act and the reasons motivating it. It explores consequences that often go unnoticed. It is the story of memories and mistakes, actions and behavior that once taken are irreversible. Sometimes, remorse is not enough to reverse or excuse the thoughtless ill wishes or foolish behavior of our youth. In the end, has our life been well lived? Has Tony’s? The reader will decide.