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THE STORY OF OUR LIVES: A Novel about Friends ~Helen Warner

Monday, February 12th, 2018

THE STORY OF OUR LIVES is a wonderful read about four friends who meet at University and remain friends over the course of their lives.  I just cozied right into this story and enjoyed the lovely conversations and problem solving involved in the women’s lives.  The language was supportive and yet the friends were able to speak clearly to each other and challenge the best of their endeavors.  Secrets were uncovered over the years and those lead to positive interactions and healthy outcomes.

There are several love stories within the book and that makes for fun dialogue and group attention.  The 4 women meet for long weekends nearly every year to catch up, enjoy their transitions and offer work related changes and opportunities.  Two of the women have big jobs in Television and Communications, one just wants to be a wife and mother to her wealthy fellow, and the fourth is a single parent who must make survival decisions about her work so she can fully parent her child.  Each character has a particular crisis to overcome and it is just terrific to understand how the friends draw together to assist in the resolutions and better outcomes.   The men in the story are definitely a part of the story, yet only one male is developed and helps with the parenting parts of the stories of their lives.

I loved the different cottages that the women spent their weekends at and how they divided up the cooking and the tasks at hand while keeping relaxation and true connections their highest priority.  This gave me a bit of a travel perspective about the UK and other warm and trendy spots for 20 – 40 somethings to be attracted to and enjoy.  I, of course, like the English expressions which are so precise compared to casual Americanisms and slang.  These women were driven to stay connected and not lose the friendship because of lack of attention to words and communications.

In the last several years I have read a number of best friend stories.  Communications and intentions to hold on the friendship seem to be the most successful role of these stories.  Being a friend is a considerable amount of work and it makes me think that younger women need to know that it is work and the communication skills are tantamount in the process.  THE STORY OF OUR LIVES did have glamour and a number of crisis points, the writer’s words flowed and the sentence structures were good and made the story move without feeling sloppy.  I would have loved to have such a nice group of friends in my younger years and rather envied the women in this story.

A lovely rainy afternoon read and a joy to know that maybe there are such nice groups happening currently.

About Helen Warner

Helen Warner is head of daytime for Channel 4, where she is responsible for shows such as Come Dine With Me and Deal Or No Deal. Previously she worked for ITV where she launched the daytime talk show Loose Women and was editor of This Morning. She lives in East Anglia with her husband and their two children.


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THE SENSE OF AN ENDING: A Novel ~Julian Barnes

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING is actually a long short story told in two chapters.  It is a piece of exquisite writing which will just amaze you, dazzle your mind, and require you think.  The writing is so tight and vivid the very words can control one’s thinking about the story.  It actually takes a bit of effort to see the subject of the story for what it is, and I found that workout to reveal a rather unsavory tale.

The stage of the short story is often to approach a character with problem or trauma one after each other, creating in the story a tension, which quite often leaves the reader pondering or wondering about the bigger outcome. This story has little movement because the narrator is so devoid of emotion and is just step-by-step walking through his life from his boy’s school through his retirement.  Tony just does not seem to understand and he cannot recognize his life lesson. From the first page he is attempting to figure out the meaning, the part he plays in the unfolding of the narrative.

The Mothers in the story are fascinating in that each and everyone attempts to turn on Tony’s emotions and assist him into actually living a life with meaning.  Not even his daughter holds out hope that he will engage in life and just tells him how he can relate to his grandson.  He does note that his ex-wife has a bigger role in his daughter’s life and she is willing to let him talk through his dilemma, but even she lets him know she is done and “he just does not get it”.

The section of the story about the Severn Bore, is a fascinating reveal to the reader that THE SENSE OF AN ENDING is just that as Tony experiences something deeply and is mystified by one of natures occurrences.

“,,,I stayed on the bank my myself.  I don’t think I can properly convey the effect that moment had on me.  It wasn’t like a tornado or an earthquake – nature being violent and destructive, putting us in our place.  It was more unsettling because it looked and felt quietly wrong, as if some small lever of the universe had been pressed, and here, just for these minutes, nature was reversed, and time with it.  And to see this phenomenon after dark made it the more mysterious, the more otherworldly.”

The reader grasps that eventually when Tony gets his smack in the face it is going to be a Tsunami in order for him to understand.  It will be a violent, dark, otherworldly aspect of nature.

I had to read THE SENSE OF AN ENDING two times and enjoy the form and the writing.  The destruction of a school chum who did not have a Mother was compelling and such a devastating emotional tug, it made it hard to double dose.

Julian Barnes online

Mr. Barnes won the Man Booker Award for THE SENSE OF AN ENDING.  He has a long list of successful books and articles.

This book is from my own personal library and I purchased it and analyzed it per the request of my friend DEB who said her book group, folks who are very smart just went on and on about the writing in the story but nothing about the understanding of what the story was trying to tell us – “Just what does it mean and what is it about?”  So thank you DEB for presenting me with this opportunity to share my thoughts about what I read.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

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