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The Sense of an Ending

by Julian Barnes |

REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD

People PICK

NOVEL

In his seventh decade, Tony Webster, the narrator of Barnes’s brief, brilliant new novel, has much to be grateful for: amicable relations with his ex-wife and daughter, volunteer work he enjoys, a sense of peace despite the knowledge that he’s settled when he might have soared. “I had wanted life not to bother me too much,” he muses, “and had succeeded.” Everything changes when he receives a mysterious bequest from the mother of Veronica Ford, a long-ago love he remembers as having toyed with him. As Tony tries to understand what motivated the gift, he’s jolted back to his youth and forced to reexamine all his assumptions about himself. Was he really the victim in his breakup with Veronica? How could he have forgotten the contents of a certain letter he wrote? Barnes weaves a taut, suspenseful tale while raising fascinating questions about memory, accountability and the limits of self-knowledge. History, Tony remembers a teacher telling him, is not only “the lies of the victors” but also “the self-delusions of the defeated.” He-like all of us-is guilty of both.

The Night Strangers

by Chris Bohjalian |

REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

NOVEL

After surviving a horrific plane crash that kills 39 passengers, pilot Chip Linton and his family retreat to a remote village in northern New Hampshire hoping to heal. But Chip soon finds that his family’s new home holds something malevolent: a child-size basement door sealed shut by 39 bolts. What’s behind the door? And why are the women of the village so interested in the Lintons’ twin daughters? This unsettling latest from master storyteller Bohjalian (Midwives) will keep you up at night.