When Rachel becomes involved in the lives of the Livingstones it is with an acute appreciation of their home - beautifully furnished and richly decorated. They have won an undisclosed amount of money on the football pools. But rather than enjoy their new-found wealth, seem sadly resigned to it. They do, however, appear to take pleasure in the association between Rachel and their daughter Heather, seeing Rachel as a good influence. However, no one can foresee their own destiny.
And everyone can be a victim of fate.
©1987 Selobrook Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
A self-described "plain dealer proud of the honesty of her transactions," protagonist Rachel brings us into the world of Oscar and Dorrie and their extended family. The couple is newly wealthy from an undisclosed windfall from the football pools. Rachel is, to their minds, best friends with their daughter Heather. Unfortunately, it isn't clear that either Rachel or Heather understands the precise nature of their relationship. This "friendship" is the true focus of the book and explores Brookner's obsession with misunderstandings and misalliances, as well as the nature of feminine interactions.
Much of the beginning is told in straightforward exposition without much dialogue, which does become a bit wearing after a time. But things pick up when Heather becomes engaged. Rachel has her doubts about Michael, Heather's Peter Pan of a fiancé, and more doubts still about his over-protective father.
Brookner's well-known gifts are evident throughout: close, telling observations which reveal deep character; a deft, painterly touch with description; the creation of an uneasy expectation about what may or may not come to pass.
Still, having read "A Family Romance" the same week, I found this a little less satisfying. There seemed to be less at stake here, and less intimacy in the viewpoint. But time spent with Brookner is never wasted, and I still enjoyed this story very much.
The beautiful Ms. Lunghi's narration is well-suited to the story. As Rachel, she delivers a slightly disdainful view of the circumstances with swift, impeccable enunciation.
But overall, a depressing look at the "near miss" in casual relationships nowadays. It does make an important point: that to create a life with verve and meaning requires a genuine investment of the self -- something this character was entirely unable to risk.
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