The End of Loneliness

Benedict Wells, Charlotte Collins

The End of Loneliness
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The End of Loneliness

Benedict Wells, Charlotte Collins

Marty, Liz and Jules' idyllic childhood with their loving parents in Munich is shattered by the death of their parents in a car crash, and their charmed life is exchanged for a bleak state boarding school.

As the three deal with the death of their parents in very different ways, they become estranged from one another; Marty focusing on his career; Liz turning to different forms of escapision; and Jules turning from a vivacious child to a quiet, withdrawn teenager. Whilst at boarding school he meets the mysterious and charming Alva - but he will only realise years later what she means to him; and what she has never told him. Just as it seems that they can make amends for the time wasted, the past catches up with them…

Told episodically through the fractured lives of the siblings, The End of Loneliness is a heartfelt, enriching novel about loss, loneliness, family and love.


Benedict Wells’ novel The End of Loneliness had already sold over 250,000 copies in Germany when it was translated into English. With statistics like that, I was curious and somewhat cautious that this novel would not live up to this international acclaim. Yet, after 20 pages I was sucked into the lives of the three children: Marty, Liz and Jules. Predominantly following Jules, the youngest, Wells artfully crafts the lives of the three children after the tragic death of their parents.

Their formative years are spent at a dreadful boarding school that is stripped of any form of love. It is here that the siblings become estranged from one another and Jules hits the ‘rock bottom’ of loneliness: ‘I am merely present: a ghost, a tiny creature’. It is in this state that Jules meets fellow classmate Alva, a girl with copper hair who loves to read. Their time together, like Jules’ old family life, leaves an emotional imprint on him and he carries this into adulthood.

Throughout their adult lives, Jules, Marty and Liz’s paths further separate until they are tangled back together. Wells artfully strings his characters along paths of discovery, through falls and realisations over the course of their adult lives. The believability of their lives and struggles is comforting and consoling; none of his characters are perfect and we can identify with them. The perspectives of and relationships between the siblings are one of the novel’s strengths.

Another strength is Wells’ exploration of loneliness. In Jules’ pursuit of writing and photography he attempts to encapsulate his own loneliness. Yet the pictures and pages show him reaching out for closeness and, in most cases, gaining companionship and love within his family. Loneliness never leaves him; but he is not alone in this.

Rose Maurice works as a bookseller at Readings Doncaster.

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