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Posts Tagged ‘anita brookner’

strangers

He was haunted by a feeling of invisibility, as if he were a mere spectator of his own life, with no one to identify him in the barren circumstances of the here and now.Â’ Paul Sturgis is retired and lives alone in South Kensington. He walks alone and dines alone, taking pleasure in small exchanges with strangers. His only acquaintance is a widowed cousin whom he visits on Sundays. Unable to make sense of his solitary nature, and fearing death among strangers, he wonders whether at last he might be ready for companionship. But a chance meeting with an old girlfriend and an encounter in Venice with a recently divorced younger woman compel Sturgis to decide how (and with whom) he will spend the rest of his days.

This is Anita Brookner’s most recent novel. There is much that is recognisable from her earlier novels here, loneliness,, aging,  unsatisfactory relationships, the desolation of London streets often seen in the dark or the rain. This is what Anita Brookner does so well, her writing is beautiful, and rather melancholic, as she makes her reader look deep in to themselves, maybe we can sometimes see glimpses of ourselves in the vulnerabilities of her characters.

In this novel, the central character is Paul Sturgis, at 72 he has lived in the same flat for many years, a flat he doesn’t even like really, he dreams from time to time of another life in another place. Paul is a nice man, gentle and polite, he is unprepared for Vicky Gardner, a divorced younger woman with seemingly complicated domestic problems, whom he meets in Venice, and is reacquainted with back in London. Shortly after Paul meets Sarah, a former lover, who had once rejected him.  Paul must make decisions about his life, and how he will spend the remainder of it, and possibly with whom. This is the first novel of Anita Brookner’s written from a male perspective that I have read. Recently I was talking to a friend who also like AB, she told me how she prefers the novels written from a male POV. I did enjoy this novel, although I can’t say it was a favourite, it is a really rather sad novel, but so well written, and with such subtle poignancy that it’s hard not to be hugely impressed.

Anita Brookner

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Dr Ruth Weiss, a celebrated authority on Balzac is now forty, and looks back on her London childhood, her friendships and doomed Parisian love affairs to tell the story of a life impassioned by literature, and she realises that once again she must make a start in life.

a start in LifeI do so love Anita Brookner novels, I always rather like the characters, they are so human, fragile and flawed as well as beautifully written. This is one of Anita Brookner’s earliest novels, yet it is still highly accomplished. At forty Ruth Weiss an expert on Balzac thinks her life has been ruined by literature. As Ruth looks back on her life, her role as a daughter living with her peculiar parents and their funny housekeeper, her short time in Paris and a doomed love affair, she is in a sense preparing to start again.

As always Brookner’s sense of time and place is perfect, I love her world, and her beautiful writing. Hugely readable, intelligent and poignant.

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rules of engagement

Amazon Editorial Review:

‘I have come to believe that there can be no adequate preparation for the sadness that comes at the end, the sheer regret that one’s life is finished, that one’s failures remain indelible and one’s successes illusory.’ Elizabeth and Betsy are old school friends. Born in 1948 and unready for the sixties, they had high hopes of the lives they would lead, even though their circumstances were so different. When they meet again in their thirties, Elizabeth, married to the safe, older Digby is relieving the boredom of a cosy but childless marriage with an affair. Betsy seems to have found real romance in Paris. Are their lives taking off, or are they just making more of the wrong choices without even realising it?

It was only about 3 years ago I think, that I started to read Anita Brookner, and she is now quietly becoming a firm favourite.

This is the 7th of her novels I have read. There is a touch of the melancholic about her writing, but I don’t find her depressing at all. The themes of this novel are very similar to that of the others I have read, that of lonliness, grief, and the choices women make in their lives.

Elizabeth married a man many years older than herself, while her childhood friend Betsy entered into a much less suitable relationship with a man in Paris. These choices they made years earlier continue to have an impact as they approach middle age. Elizabeth’s life is hardly exciting, she is well off and has no need to work, and yet she fills her time somehow, she takes to walking in the early mornings or late evenings, she sees the seasons change, and contemplates taking a trip. The observations of everyday life, of women like Elizabeth, and their small preoccupations is what makes Anita Brookner’s novels so poignant and true.

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Born to elegant but frivolous parents, Harriet grows up unguided, shrouded in an innocence that her friendship with Tessa, and later her marriage to Freddie, do nothing to dispel. Freddie is far older and disapproving of Tessa and her husband Jack. And yet all four are bound together.

I suppose I came quite late to the Anita Brookner party – but now that I have I am enjoying her work immensely – and I have three more TBR. As with the other Brookner novels I have read, there is a touch of sadness here. Her characterisation is brilliant, so many small things beautifully observed, in the way people are, and behave, their hopes, fears, disappointments and secret desires laid bare with such realism.   Imogen, Harriet’s beautiful daughter, is such  a wonderfully poignant contrast to Harriet herself – in all her compliant dullness, while Lizzie, Tessa’s daughter is more a mirror of Harriet than Tessa, her quiet politeness,  and heartbreaking adoration of a mother who is too busy trying to snare her own husband to notice – just as Harriet possibly loves her daughter too much, and indulges in fantasies about Jack, Tessa’s unattainable husband. This is a novel about the lonlieness within a marriage, the disappointments of life. 

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SynopsisBeatrice and Miriam are sisters, sharing little except an unhappy childhood. Beatrice is a pianist, a romantic, while Miriam is disillusioned after a failed marriage. While they have a home and a few acquaintances in common, neither confides to the other what is in their hearts.

This novel about two sisters leading quiet lives, is typical of the other Brookner novels I have read; There is a feeling of solitude and disappointment in these characters, who are middle aged, intelligent women, with only few other acquaintances. The sisters inability to talk to one another leads them to more solitude, like so many people each  of them dosen’t really appreciate the other.  As  with other Brookner novels I have read, this is written beautifully, and is poignantly touching.  I enjoyed the descriptions of solitary walks in the park and the even the melocholic feeling that Anita Brookner manages to bring to her writing. I am not registering any of currently unregistered Brookner novels on BC – as I have decided to keep them. Anita Brookner is fast becoming a bit of a favourite – or one of them at least.

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Synopsis
A novel centering on the relationship between the classic Brookner heroine (only child, soon bereft of parents, alone in depressing flat) who becomes a feminist academic, and her pleasure-loving French aunt who’s into men and bridge parties.

I have had a slow reading week up till now – as I was a bit yuk on Monday and went to bed early without reading (shock horror) but I have been happy to spend it with an Anita Brookner novel.

This is a little depressing I suppose – however it is so beautifully written, and ultimately very moving that I can’t help but say I really enjoyed it – although I am aware that enjoyed is possibly the wrong word really. I sat up in bed late last night to finish it – and I did finish it with a quite genuine tear in my eye. The lives of these characters, their motivations and concerns had been so minutely examined by Brookner, that by the end the pathos with which we see the conclusion (although it is not really you feel) of Jane and Dolly’s lives is real.

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Frances Hilton, shy and clever, is perhaps more willingly seducible than most. By day she works in a medical library; every evening she goes back to the vast solitude of a West London mansion flat and the writing of fiction. So when she is adopted by Nick, and his equally dazzling wife Alix, Frances is ripe and ready to begin her sentimental education…”

Absolutely loved this book. The writing is impeccable, the characters so real at times in their often lonely domesticity. Frances is a character I found I was able to identify with in some ways. The small routines of work and home, are brilliantly portrayed, as is her peculiar status within the new circle of friends she now finds herself.

Anita Brookner is the kind of writer that makes you look at your life, and possibly find it wanting. Her characters in this novel (and in Hotel Du Lac I seem to remember) are colourless people living small lives – although possibly quite well off. I couldn’t help but wonder how she would portray my little life. My mood has certainly been effected while reading this novel, but that hasn’t stopped me enjoying it.

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Synopsis
Edith Hope is in disgrace and working out her probation on the shores of Lake Geneva. Friends and family have banished her to seemly Swiss solitude until such times as she recovers her senses. This novel won the Booker Prize in 1985.

A lovely genteel novel. I really warmed to Edith Hope (she has the exact same name as my aunt)and felt her weariness with life and love, and how to get through it. The other occupants of Hotel du Lac, are an interesting bunch, but I was unable to warm to Mr Neville. I have to admit to this being the first Anita Brookner I have read – it won’t be my last.

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