As the solitary child of mild and gentle parents, Jane is fascinated and astounded by her exotically European aunt, Dolly.
Dolly’s ways are certainly not her parents’ ways, yet she is an object of interest and dread to her beleaguered relatives. It is clear that they have nothing in common: Jane feels no affection for Dolly, and Dolly clearly dislikes children.
Yet the two are fated to go through life in uneasy harness, until such time as their alliance is accepted by both as not only inevitable, but as something of great value.
Read by Fiona Shaw.
©1993 Anita Brookner (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
Jane Manning is a characteristic Brookner protagonist: rather shy, intelligent, sensitive, and by design and circumstance, rather alone in the world. Her aunt, Dolly, is a great contrast to her: maddeningly self-absorbed, designing, intriguing, and glamorous. Her many faults do not keep her niece from caring very much what happens to her.
In a culture of oversharing, where the facile observation is mistaken for wit, I find myself looking to writers like Brookner more often. Her depth of psychological wisdom and beautiful voice shine all the brighter by contrast.
Of course, she is not for everyone. But she may be for you.
If you are someone who values her privacy and independence, if you require "a ruminative space," as Brookner puts it, you may find solace here. Perhaps you learned your hardest lessons early in life and designed your life accordingly, determined to live on your own terms as many Brookner heroines do. If so, you will know what it is to be alone within the crowd, the observer at the party, knowing what it is to remain "the other" even if you are on stage. She speaks to those of us who know these truths, and we listen to her voice in awe.
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