When you get into reading books it is surprising how one book can lead into another so seamlessly or without a deliberate mindset on the reader; this also happens when you encounter other forms of popular culture.
I remember going to see 'Gone Girl' the David Fincher directed film at the cinema based on the bestseller by Gillian Flynn; a story written by the view of a female protagonist about the break-up of a marriage stemming from the sociopathic behaviour of a women; I am focusing on the dissolution of marriage in early 21st century culture and how the sanctity of marriage itself is being forgotten about. Shortly afterwards, I started reading 'The Children Act' by Ian McEwan; a male writer with a female protagonist again experiencing the break-up of her marriage, and following much upheaval and emotional processing of the matter, the couple stay together.
The same instance of familiar themes and narrative outlines has hit me again from two very different writers. On this occasion it is Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending, the tale of Tony who is the other side of 60 has one bad marriage behind him and yet has a chance encounter with a girl he nearly married and the fall out of that side-step in life. Tony spends much of the time reflecting upon why he broke up with the girl and how he mis-remembered or did not recall at all a vitriolic letter he sent to the girl and her new partner, his friend. The sense of memory is lost on him because he has lost all memory of his act.
The second book is My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout; a story of the eponymous heroine who is in a hospital bed following an emergency procedure when she is visited by her absent mother at her bedside. They have not spoken for several years following Lucy's decision to marry into a different faith causing a family rapture. The time convalescing in hospital leads to Lucy recalling her upbringing in poverty and how her attainment to live better led her to New York and happiness with her husband - who is strangely absent whilst she is in hospital.
The book cover print is telling. A solo chair by the window which can be a holder for either Lucy or her mother; but perhaps inevitably, all you have at the end is yourself thinking about your memories. Memories are lonely when they are your own, with no-one else to share them with.
Throw into the mix my second Barnes' book in the last two months The Noise of Time which is set in the middle third of the Twentieth Century following a Russian musical composer looking back at this life and the fascination of how things play out for a reason in hindsight, with the novelty of events occurring within leap years.; you have authors who want to concentrate on memory as the sole reason for living, yet it might be too late to remember.