I finished The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes on Monday. I had the day off, which I enjoyed gratefully, and read the last half or so sitting at my desk with all my papers, pens, mugs and other books strewn around as if I were the live participant in a vertical live burial.
Right after I finished I was so befuddled, I sat pressing my eyebrows with my fingertips, wondering if what I thought just happened happened, and came to the inescapable conclusion that it did. It was one of the most affecting reading experiences -story-wise- that I've had in a hugely long time.
One thing that makes The Sense of an Ending so effective is the easy pacing and sympathetic narrator.
You're ill-prepared for the shock.
My daughter walked in to my room right as I had accepted the hypothesis, and said something mundane like, 'I need some money,' then stopped and said, 'What's wrong with you?'
I made a sweeping gesture towards the bed, where the book lay.
'Oh my god,' I explained.
I know there is another very plausible theory about the plot of this book, but I'm not buying it.