I’m always a bit worried about superlatives on the cover of a book but, goodness, this book deserved it. John Irving is correct: it is ‘dazzling’ and as the Sunday Post says “It’s not easily forgotten”.
The End of Loneliness is written by Benedict Wells and translated by Charlotte Collins. It was published in German in 2016 and then published in English by Sceptre Books in 2018.
I read this book very quickly as it was compelling but I wished I’d read it slowly because it was compelling. I will only share limited details about the content as I believe there is a special place in hell for a person who spoils the reading experience for anyone and in this case it’s possibly hard to share details that won’t give something away.
Jules Moreau is the narrator of this story and it opens with him lying in the hospital having just survived a pretty horrific motor-cycle accident. We are obviously glad he has survived and when his twins run in to greet him we are doubly glad. For Jules has known a hard life; we can see this from the blurb – his parents are killed in a car accident when he is very young and his pretty ordinary life is turned upside down. Jules is the youngest of three children and the death of their parents impacts on their relationships with each other as well as people outside the family. As adults they find each other again and this is one aspect of the end of their loneliness.
And Jules is lonely. Wells captures the loneliness of the child, the adolescent and the adult so poignantly that the story aches. Wells’ prose is thoughtful and restrained, which often does not correlate with a compelling read. Trust me he does not tear through the story – we do.