'Literature for me was a magnificent destiny for which I was not yet fully prepared.'Paul and Henrietta Manning and their solitary, academic daughter Jane have nothing in common with Dolly, widow of Henrietta's brother. Corseted and painted, Dolly is a frivolous, superficial woman, who has little time for those without that inestimable quality - charm. Jane, in particular, falls into this category, especially after the death of her parents. But Jane has money - and a conscience - and these bind her to Dolly. Through disagreements, disappointments and disapprovals, Jane and Dolly are enmeshed in an uneasy alliance in which history and family create closer ties than friendship ever could.
'I was foolish enough to think that I was strong enough, and cheerful enough by nature, to avoid unhappiness. I was not yet old enough to see that I was in error.'Alan Sherwood is a cautious, solitary London solicitor who finds himself obsessed by his glamorous cousin Sarah. But Sarah is self-seeking and predatory and their short-lived affair leaves Alan desolate. He finds distraction in Angela, a homely, needy acquaintance of Sarah and they drift into marriage. Alan, however, is haunted by his memories of Sarah, and, attempting to recapture the wordless passion of their time together, he arranges a final meeting. It is an act of betrayal that changes his life for ever.
'I never liked her, nor did she like me; strange, then, how we managed to keep up a sort of friendship for so long.'Fay Langdon has relinquished her singing career to marry Owen, a highly successful solicitor. At one of their dinner parties Fay meets the glamorous, self-obsessed Julia and is destined to join the handful of acolytes who provide Julia with ammunition for her merciless scorn and disapprobation. As the years pass and Fay and Julia's lives grow empty of purpose, they are drawn together by their fear of age and isolation. Yet a mutual mistrust continues to exist between them until Fay is driven to one last heroic act.
Hotel du Lac is the classic Booker Prize winning novel by Anita Brookner. Into the rarefied atmosphere of the Hotel du Lac timidly walks Edith Hope, romantic novelist and holder of modest dreams. Edith has been exiled from home after embarrassing herself and her friends. She has refused to sacrifice her ideals and remains stubbornly single. But among the pampered women and minor nobility Edith finds Mr Neville, and her chance to escape from a life of humiliating spinsterhood is renewed . . . 'A classic . . . a book which will be read with pleasure a hundred years from now'Spectator'A smashing love story. It is very romantic. It is also humorous, witty, touching and formidably clever' The Times'Hotel du Lac is written with a beautiful grave formality, and it catches at the heart' Observer'Her technique as a novelist is so sure and so quietly commanding' Hilary Mantel, Guardian'She is one of the great writers of contemporary fiction' Literary ReviewAnita Brookner was born in south London in 1928, the daughter of a Polish immigrant family. She trained as an art historian, and worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art until her retirement in 1988. She published her first novel, A Start in Life, in 1981 and her twenty-fourth, Strangers, in 2009. Hotel du Lac won the 1984 Booker Prize. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner has published a number of volumes of art criticism.
At the heart of Anita Brookner's new novel lies a double mystery: What has happened to Anna Durrant, a solitary woman of a certain age who has disappeared from her London flat? And why has it taken four months for anyone to notice?
As Brookner reconstructs Anna's life and character through the eyes of her acquaintances, she gives us a witty yet ultimately devastating study of self-annihilating virtue while exposing the social, fiscal, and moral frauds that are the underpinnings of terrifying rectitude.
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.
A lonely art historian absorbed in her research seizes the opportunity to share in the joys and pleasures of the lives of a glittering couple, only to find her hopes of companionship and happiness shattered.
Standing on a railway platform in a Swiss resort town, sensibly clad in his Burberry raincoat and walking shoes, a man thinks he may be looking at the woman for whom he ruined his life many years earlier. Alan Sherwood, a quiet English solicitor, remembers back to a time when he stepped briefly out of character to indulge in a liaison with Sarah Miller, an intriguing but heartless distant relative--only to find himself in a series of absurd situations that culminated in his marriage to Sarah's clinging, childlike friend Angela.
With her compassionate portrait of a man who has paid a terrible price for his folly, Anita Brookner gives us a novel that it at once harrowing and humane. In the traditions of Henry James and Thomas Mann, Altered States is a beautifully rendered tale of loneliness, guilt, and erotic obsession.
After twenty years of marriage Blanche Vernon is alone; abandoned by her husband Bertie for a childishly demanding computer expert named Mousie. While Blanche finds this turn of events baffling, she feels that Bertie must have left her because of her overly sensible demeanor. Yet many of their mutual friends disagree. In fact, Blanche has come to be regarded as undeniably eccentric--making elliptical remarks that no one knows how to read, and chatting at great length about characters in fiction. She resolutely fills her unwanted hours with activities, maintaining her excellent appearance, drinking increasingly more wine, and, in an attempt to turn her energy to good works, becoming severely enmeshed in the life of a disordered young family.
In her superbly accomplished new novel, Anita Brookner proves that she is our mast profound observer of women's lives, posing questions about feminine identity and desire with a stylishness that conveys an almost sensual pleasure.
From the moment Jane Manning first meets her aunt Dolly, she is both fascinated and appalled. Where Jane is tactful and shy, Dolly is flamboyant and unrepentantly selfish, a connoisseur of fine things, an exploiter of wealthy people. But as the exigencies of family bring Jane and Dolly together, Brookner shows us that we may end up loving people we cannot bring ourselves to like -- and that this paradox makes love all the more precious and miraculous.
Maud Gonthier yearns for an escape from the cocoon of the bourgeois modesty. The splendid, caddish David Tyler appears to offer one. In this stylish, deeply knowing novel by the author of Hotel du Lac, Maud's seduction creates a chemistry of longing, sensuality, and betrayal--with a surprising climax. 240 pp.
'She hoped one day to find the image she unconsciously sought, without knowing why she sought it, something to lift the spirits, to transport her on an imaginary journey, to give a hint of the transcendence which was so blatantly lacking in her everyday life of words and paper.'
Beatrice and Miriam are sisters, sharing little except a traditional childhood that has left them burdened with unhappy memories.Beatrice is a pianist, a romantic, who believes in love, while Miriam, who married the rather colourless Jonathan Eldon for pragmatic reasons, companionship, status, is not beyond disillusionment. Following her divorce, she returns to Beatrice, who is beginning to appear fragile. While they share a home and a few acquaintances, neither confides to the other what is in their hearts.For the beautiful Beatrice, now prepared to settle for friendship and closeness rather than passion, there is Max and the hope of the carving a contented future with him. For Miriam there is love and esteem - and, finally, certainty.
'Within a few weeks, it seemed, the fixed points of my existence had revealed themselves to be untrustworthy.'Zoë is delighted when her widowed mother maries Simon, a generous older man who owns a villa in Nice. However, the long enchanted visits to France she enjoys come to an abrupt end when Simon suffers a bad fall. Zoë and her mother, finding themselves surounded by well-meaning strangers, must learn how and how not to trust appearances . . .
'He was not trained for freedom, that was the problem, had not been brought up for it.'At seventy-three, Herz is facing an increasingly bewildering world. He cannot see his place in it or even work out what to do with his final years. Questions and misunderstandings haunt Herz like old ghosts. Should he travel, sell his flat, or propose marriage to a friend he has not seen in thirty years? The letters he writes and does not send and the passers-by he encounters remind him how out of touch he is, how detached from the modern world. Yet Herz believes that he must do something, only he doesn't know what this next big thing in life should be . . .
Emma Roberts leaves home for the first time in her twenties, travelling to Paris to study seventeenth-century garden design. There, she meets vivacious Françoise Desnoyers and is quickly drawn into her passionate and complicated world. But Françoise's demands - deceiving her formidable mother over a love affair - leave Emma feeling exposed and vulnerable, and yearning for the safety and comfort of her London home. Yet when an unexpected family tragedy turns that life upside down, Emma comes to realize the impossibility of returning to a home you have already left behind...
'No man is free of his own history' Hartmann and Fibich came to England on the kindertransport. As orphans of the war they were strangers in a strange land. Together, they survived. And in adulthood they have been unable to separate, sharing a successful business.Yet Hartmann's carefully polished manners conceal the past he refuses to think about. While Fibich, a mass of fears and neuroses, can do nothing but remember. Together these two men seek to build a future from the shaky foundations of their own pasts . . .'Like Virginia Woolf, Brookner's aim is not to draw characters in the round, but to reveal psychological reality in the deep' The Times
Strangers is the twenty fourth novel by Anita Brookner, the Booker Prize winning author of Hotel du Lac. Paul Sturgis is a retired banker manager who lives alone in a dark little flat. He walks alone and dines alone, seeking out and taking pleasure in small exchanges with strangers: the cheerful Australian girl who cuts his hair, the lady at the drycleaners. His only relative, and only acquaintance, is a widowed cousin by marriage - herself a virtual stranger - to whom he pays ritualistic visits on a Sunday afternoon. Trying to make sense of his current solitary state, and fearing that his destiny may be to die among strangers, Sturgis trawls through memories of his failed relationships and finds himself longing for companionship, or at the very least a conversation. But then 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 . . . 'Each book is a prayer bead on a string, and each prayer is a secular, circumspect prayer, a prayer and a protest and a charm against encroaching night' Hilary Mantel, Guardian'No one writes with more skill and honesty about the human condition and this book is possibly her finest' Julie Myerson, Observer'A novel of great stylistic beauty and psychological truth. As great a reflection on fear and regret as Philip Larkin or Beckett' Guardian'Like Graham Greene, she draws the reader into a world that has a character and signature all of its own . . . Strangers is a novel of sober brilliance, and the unerring, unflinching Brookner is still a much underestimated novelist' Helen Dunmore, The TimesAnita Brookner was born in south London in 1928, the daughter of a Polish immigrant family. She trained as an art historian, and worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art until her retirement in 1988. She published her first novel, A Start in Life, in 1981 and her twenty-fourth, Strangers, in 2009. Hotel du Lac won the 1984 Booker Prize. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner has published a number of volumes of art criticism.
'I had spent that morbid Sunday wondering if simple happiness were available to all and had come to the conclusion that it was not. One had to make a determined bid for it, and I did not quite know how this was done.'Enigmatic Claire is 30 and lives alone. When she meets Martin Gibson, a faded scholar, she becomes inordinately interested. She is even more interested when she meets his wife, a far more spectacular personality. But the unexpected news of this woman's death releases emotions that were not entirely foreseen.
Penguin Specials are designed to fill a gap. Written to be read over a long commute or a short journey, they are original and exclusively in digital form. This is a poignant novella from Anita Brookner.'I rather hope I shall die at the hairdresser's, for they are bound to know what to do. At least that is what I tell myself.'Solitude is a familiar burden for Elizabeth Warner. She lives in a basement flat near Victoria and leaves the house only to go shopping and to have her hair done - until a chance encounter at the hairdresser's brings unexpected change. At the Hairdresser's is a deeply moving, unflinchingly observed story about trust and betrayal by one of the greatest writers of contemporary fiction.
Beginning with a wedding photograph, this story charts the loves and lives of a family and their friends, following each of them through their own struggles, triumphs and sorrows.
Frances Hinton is shy and clever. By day she works in a medical library and every evening she goes back to the solitude of her London flat to write fiction. When she is adopted by Nick and his wife, she is ripe to begin her sentimental education.
Kitty Maule wants to be 'totally unreasonable, totally unfair, very demanding, and very beautiful.'Instead, she is clever, hesitant and too patient for her own good. For years, she has been in love with her colleague Maurice Bishop, a charming English lecturer who seems not to notice her feelings. But when there comes a chance to accompany Maurice to France on a study of French cathedrals, Kitty sees an opporunity to be the woman she has always wanted to be as well as at last make the man she wants fall in love with her. But why is that the closer she gets to Maurice, the more elusive he seems to become?
Since childhood, Ruth Weiss has been escaping from life into books, from the hothouse attentions of her parents into the warmth of lovers and friends. Now Dr Weiss, at 40, knows that her life has been ruined by literature and that once again she must make a new start.
'The future is not always a whole new ball game. There tends to be unfinished business. One trails all sorts of things around with one, things that simply won't be got rid of.'Destined to be a haunter of libraries, Lewis's cautious progress through life reveals to him only his own shortcomings. Estranged from his wife and daughter, he searches for an alternative. This novel presents the life and aspirations of one man who remains out of step with his times.