LT Book Club: ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes

April 2, 2014 at 9:50 am 2 comments

senseendingSecond book up for the LT Book Club is Julian Barnes’ Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending. Ending, narrated by a fairly ordinary middle-aged English man named Tony, explores the ways in which we perceive our pasts and how a sliver of new light on old paths can change everything.

The book alternates between contemporary London, where Tony struggles with new information about long-past events, and England in the 1960s, where most of the action of the story actually takes place. Despite its revelations and a clever framing structure that suggests a mystery paperback more than a philosophical novel, it is an almost placid read with Tony’s middle-aged, vaguely content tone downplaying even the highest of revealed drama.

For such a read, you can go two routes when it comes to feeding your fellow readers: comfort food which echoes the familiar story Tony thinks he knows from the first part of the book or something spicy and unexpected, reflecting the shocks provided by Tony’s angry erstwhile girlfriend, Veronica, in the second half of the novel.

Comfort Food

  • Cottage pie (recipe via the BBC) – Nothing says warm, English comfort like a steaming cottage pie. A variant on the more common shepherd’s pie, cottage pie features beef instead of lamb and can be flexibly stuffed with a variety of seasonal vegetables.
  • “Rocket” salad – To offset the heaviness of the pie, serve with a crisp side salad. Toss arugula (aka: rocket) with olive oil and top with freshly ground pepper, cubed pears or apples, and thinly shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • Jam thumbprint cookie (recipe via Ina Garten) – Top off the meal with this simple and light cookie. Perfect with a cup of tea and a reminisce.

Spicy and Unexpected

  • Chicken and onion curry (recipe via Almond Butter Binge) – Time-tested by our very own Kate, the kicky blend of spices in this curry mirror the shock Tony receives upon learning of his surprising inheritance from Veronica’s mother. It also very nicely brings us into 21st-century England and out of the mid-century past of cottage pies and puddings.
  • Garlic naan (recipe via Big Flavors Tiny Kitchen) – You simply can’t have curry without naan. I mean really.
  • Ginger cookies with cardamom and black pepper (recipe via Serious Eats) – One more taste surprise before closing up discussion shop for the day. These cookies pack a surprising punch and will keep you on your toes until the very last taste (and Tony’s very last realization).

Entry filed under: Contemporary Fiction, LT Book Club. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kate  |  April 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    YUM! I love the menu (and thanks for the shout-out! That curry was pretty awesome), and the book sounds fantastic. It’s added to my library list for sure.

    • 2. Corey  |  April 3, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Thanks! And Julian Barnes is forever on my good author list after Arthur and George, although why he has never again written historical fiction is quite beyond me.


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