Anita Brookner

Anita Brookner

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In one of her most delicate and suspenseful novels to date, Anita Brookner brings us an exquisite story of friendship and duty. Rachel Kennedy and Oscar Livingston were not precisely friends or family. Rachel had been acquanted with Oscar for some time, first as her father’s accountant, and then as her own. Part owner of a London bookshop, Rachel is thoroughly independent and somewhat distant, determinedly restrained in her feelings for others, but above all responsible. And it is this trait that leads Oscar and his wife Dorrie to seek out Rachel as a mentor for their twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Heather. Yet when Heather seems poised to make an unsuitable romantic decision, Rachel decides to speak out and intervene, causing an unwitting and devastating insight....

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Six cryptic journal jottings in her French-born mother's hand drive Maffy, initially the narrator of Brookner's (Dolly) potently crafted novel, to fabricate Maud Gonthier Harrison's single ardent girlhood affair. Having reproduced the mysterious inscription in Maud's notebook ("Dames Blanches. La Gaillardier. Place des Ternes. Sang. Edward.") and a scrap of Proust, Maffy teasingly begs the reader, "Please accept me as an unreliable narrator," then vanishes, to appear only "inadvertently" in the tale that follows. Now in a third-person voice, Maud's story takes on a pulsating reality, involving her with charismatic "scoundrel" David Tyler and his friend since Cambridge, Edward Harrison?the man Maud finally marries. The triangle, erotic and latently homoerotic, forms during a sensual, heat-drenched season of the 1950s in the French countryside; then the three drift to a borrowed house on Paris's rue Laugier. Lost in love's delirium, Maud sees Tyler as an "Apollo," a careless divinity who descends to sport with her and Edward, while emotionally damaging them forever. With delicate brilliance, Brookner probes Maud's and Edward's early family lives (Tyler, in contrast, appears from nowhere, born of mythically rich parents) to reveal how they become so entrapped. Like other Brookner heroines, Maud has a controlling mother whose tie with her is as intricately knotty as Maud's relationship is with the men. Edward, inflamed by Maud because of Tyler, grasps his own bewildering role as voyeuristic, feminine, childlike, servile and protective. With Tyler's withdrawal, Maud and Edward grow resignedly chill as they refashion their lives and tilt their relationship into a new imbalance, while the reader turns pages compulsively for a dazzling read in which every sentence seems clairvoyant....

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Literary master Anita Brookner’s elegant style is manifest on every page of her brilliant new novel. Beautifully crafted and emotionally evocative, Strangers portrays the magic and depth of real life, telling the rich story of an ordinary man whose unexpected longings, doubts, and fears are universal.

Paul Sturgis is resigned to his bachelorhood and the quietude of his London flat. He occasionally pays obliging visits to his nearest living relative, Helena, his cousin’s widow and a doyenne of decorum who, like Paul, bears a tacit loneliness.
To avoid the impolite complications of turning down Helena’s Christmas invitation, Paul sets off for a holiday in Venice, where he meets Mrs. Vicky Gardner. Younger than Paul by several decades, the intriguing and lovely woman is in the midst of a divorce and at a crossroads in her life. Upon his return to England, a former girlfriend, Sarah, reenters Paul’s life. These two women reroute Paul’s introspections and spark a transformation within him.

Paul’s steady and preferred isolation now conflicts with the stark realization of his aloneness and his need for companionship in even the smallest degree. This awareness brings with it a torrent of feelings–reassessing his Venetian journey, desiring change, and fearing death. Ultimately, his discoveries about himself will lead Paul to make a shocking decision about his life....

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Paul Sturgis is a retired banker manager who lives alone in a dark little flat. A chance encounter with a stranger – a recently divorced and demanding younger woman – shakes up his routine and when an old girlfriend appears on the scene, Sturgis is forced to make a decision about how (and with whom) he wants to spend the rest of his days…...

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