©1999 Anita Brookner (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
I am a big fan of Anita Brookner and have read all of her books. This is one of my
favorite. She writes of the lonely, constrained lives of two sisters, both of whom have
ill-fated romances. No one describes loneliness better than Anita Brookner.
The narrator is excellent. This book is not for every taste, but it is an
involving and well told story.
Brookner's artistry is mysterious. In book after book, she writes about women (and sometimes men) who live largely lonely, unfulfilled lives. The books are not especially eventful (walks through parks, an aborted excursion to Paris, a dinner date that leads to little) but somehow she makes them tense and filled with psychological and emotional urgency. She usually doesn't describe place, and there's a lot of summary. Her books tend to be quite short. And yet, every novel is rich, vivid, accurate, and intense. Her perceptions and insights about the nuances of behavior rival those of Henry James--referenced repeatedly in this book. This is a true artist who found her voice, subject matter, and milieu and stuck with it. If you're looking for easy feel-good story arcs or big plotty novels, run screaming. Personally, I can't get enough of these novels. I don't care that they tend to blur together in my mind. What she does is so specific and elegant, occasionally funny, continually witty, the sentences themselves are so flawlessly composed without seeming forced, the work cannot be confused with anyone else.
They are splendid to listen to (although there are passages and epigrammatic lines you want to underline) and Eleanor Bron is ideal as a reader.
This isn't one of my favorites, but who cares? It's still more effortlessly intelligent and beautiful, more deeply satisfying than 90% of what's out there.
I bought this title some time ago, giving up after a while, figuring that I might return to it again at some point. Well ... doing so didn't help much as I've decided to bail on it partway through once again, for good. Just couldn't maintain interest in the limited, dull lives of these unlikeable people. Eleanor Bron's narration fits the story well.
Anita Brookner is the best British contemporary author there is. This one is very like lots of the others of her work that I’ve read, but different in many details and contemplations. Here the thoughts on mid to later age are not welcome or comfortable but are so important and central to who we are as individuals. It seems that she is able to convey simply and effectively the universality of being at the very centre of British life, being the ordinary, middle class, middle aged, middle way of a person who is so very isolated and alone.
It has been picked up by other reviewers just how terrifyingly frank Anita Brookner is in all of her work and, here again - whilst there are a couple of narrative tricks that play out - it is the accuracy and quality of the interior monologue that makes the book so enjoyable a read.
Taking a step away from life and reading this one whilst on a late half term break in Mallorca allows, inevitably, the spotlight to scan backwards toward home and the day to day certitudes that underpin life. Taken away, looked at, evaluated as a result of examination it is hard not be be damning initially, but in the narrative as in life there is redemption. A religious book? Well, maybe not but a religiosity seemed to me to be a present in this tale where I was not aware of it before in Brookner’s writing.
A turning above and beyond, I wonder? Maybe not, but who else turns the inside out with such a sure hand - relaxation comes from quiet contemplation and the conclusion that life is worth the whole. A true friend and companion who deserves to be turned to regularly.
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