[…] Her gaze caught on the title The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. A thin book – she would be a long way to come within an hour. She snuggled on the couch.
Reading the first words (I remember) however, she was already distracted. It was always the same memories, no matter how hard she concentrated, how she tried to relive the memory even in slow motion, frame by frame.
[p.50, The Evolution of a marriage, Rebecca W.R. Bremmer]
[translation by me]
When we were asked to read the latest novel of Rebecca W.R. Bremmer for A perfect day for literature we received instead of a book a large pile of loose A4 sheets. It was the first print in draft. Something I considered very special, because rarely you get as an ‘ordinary’ reader at such an early stage the new work by an author under eyes. It had as a side-effect that making notes in the text became a lot easier.
After we put our reviews online I had to make some extra space available in my bookcase to store this paper mountain. I had forgotten that we would get the “official” copy of The evolution of a marriage at a later moment.
Yesterday the book was waiting on the doormat. Together with another book that I had ordered: The Sense of an Ending. While reading the novel by Bremmer I had noted in the margins next to the quote mentioned above the following remark: ‘buy and read!‘. So when I was ordering The cookbook for runners last week I checked my wishlist and thus ordered the book by Julian Barnes.
I could not resist start reading yesterday evening.
We finished our tea. I wrapped up the two remaining slices of cake and put them in a tin. Veronica kissed me nearer the corner of my lips than the center, and then left. In my mind, this was the beginning of the end of our relationship. Or have I just remembered it this way to make it Seem so, and to apportion blame?
[p.35, The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes]
Not much further the relationship is indeed ended. And again not much further it seems that Veronica has become intimate with one of the best friends of the narrator.
Could it have altered my reading experience of The Evolution of a marriage when I would have read The Sense of an Ending before? Would Rebecca W. R. Bremmer have had some specific reason for her central character (Masha) to pick this title? Is it because of reading The sense of an ending that I begin to see certain aspects of The evolution of a marriage in another light? Is it patronizing of an author to mention a link to another (related?) text so prominent or is it just a tongue in cheek gesture to the (knowing?) reader? Is there a danger that the reader has a complete different picture of The Sense of an Ending than the author and therefore the reader is thus unintentionally making false conclusions?
All these questions arose while I was reading. Maybe I’ll come back with some answers (or more questions). But first I will continue reading the book. Up to now, I find it delightful literature!
Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectation, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.
Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. 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 Sense of an Ending
Publisher Jonathan Cape
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