…by Julian Barnes.
The winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize begins with 60 year old Tony Webster, the narrator, reflecting back on his life. He remembers his school days where he, Alex and Colin, a trio welcomed a fourth person — Adrian Finn. Adrian as Tony remembers, was a gifted and philosophical young man. And the three friends found themselves drawn to him a lot more than they were to even each other. As they grow up and go on to university, Tony gets into a relationship with Veronica and his recollections of her are not very positive. He eventually has a fall out with Adrian who, after the end of Tony and Veronica’s relationship, ends up dating her. Tony remembers his life as being pretty ordinary — he had a stable job, was married once, divorced, has a child and now a grandchild.
However, Tony’s mundane life is shaken when he receives a letter from a solicitor where he has been left a modest sum of 500 pounds and a diary written by Adrian Finn. These have been left to him in a will by Veronica’s mother, a woman he met once. As Tony tries to track down the missing diary, he gets back in touch with Veronica and realises his memories about himself may not be accurate. He realises how he was responsible for things he never took responsibility for and attempts to seek redemption. It eventually culminates to a final twist that leaves the reader quite shocked and surprised.
It is a book about how as we near the end of our lives, looking back at it, we may not be so accurate. However, the sense of that ending helps us seek redemption and be remorseful for what we may have done. There is always that chance. It doesn’t necessarily mean we will be forgiven. But generally, things aren’t as they seem. This book is a short one (150 pages) and can be read pretty quickly. The first person narrator is easy to identify and empathise with. And the plot is definitely intriguing. There is just the right amount of suspense and subtleties that keep the reader hooked. All in all, I would recommend this book.
Until next time,