Tony Webster had always wanted to lead a quiet and uneventful life. Recently retired, he is puzzled when he is bequeathed £500 from the mother of a girl he dated in his early twenties. Yes, her mother seemed to like them when they dated, but it was over thirty years ago and the relationship ended badly. In a bid to determine why she has left him this money he gets back in touch with his ex-girlfriend Veronica; finding her uncooperative and evasive when he asks the pertinent questions. Tony reasons that he will find the answers to these questions by looking back on his time at University, his relationship with Veronica, and her subsequent relationship with one of his school friends.
Tony remembers his relationship with Veronica to be one-sided; ending acrimoniously she left him and soon moved on to one of his school friends, Adrian, whom Tony had introduced her to. Within their friendship group Adrian had been the intellectual and the boys struggled to stay in touch with him past his education. He remembers Adrian committing suicide shortly after sending Tony sent him a letter warning him off Veronica. He remembers Veronica being selfish and manipulative; so it makes sense that she’s withholding information from him. It doesn’t, however, make sense for Veronica’s mother to bequeath him money and some pages from Adrian’s journal. Tony is determined to find out why his present doesn’t match his memory of past events. Why did Veronica’s mother leave him money and Adrian’s diary? Why did Veronica leave him for Adrian? In other words, he’s seeking the sense of an ending.
I think that you can enjoy this book on two levels: an intellectual treaty into the trustworthiness of the memories which ground our sense of self and a thrilling mystery with twists and turns as Tony uncovers long buried secrets and surprises. Either way, it is extraordinarily well written with twists and turns in the plot to keep the reader interested. I know people are usually put off by the ‘Booker Prize’ label as this usually indicates a dense and hard to follow plot but this was genuinely unputdownable. So much so that I was stood in the kitchen reading it whilst attempting to prepare dinner…!