On love and marriage
'"Do you think you could marry him?"
Sonia looked towards the door. "I think you should marry someone you love."
"That is a very modern idea, I think. A very English idea. No one on the Continent of Europe would consider marrying for anything but social position."
"I know," said Sonia. "But I am an English girl, Thomas, and I don't live on the Continent of Europe."'
- Human Traces
On the meaning of life
'Rather older than most people, I suppose, I'd come to admit that no supple pattern would be revealed to me; my life would not acquire the gracious and redemptive shape of art. It would instead be a sequence of non sequiturs reeling and bumping into one another, until the last one was aborted and torn off.'
- Where My Heart Used to Beat
'[Elizabeth's] life had reached an age at which she should no longer be the last to die; there ought to be someone younger than her, a generation of her children who should now be enjoying that luxurious safety of knowing that grandparents and parents still lay like a barrier between them and their mortality.'
'He saw a picture in his mind of a terrible piling up of the dead. It came from his contemplation of the church, but it had its own clarity: the row on row, the deep rotting earth hollowed out to hold them, while the efforts of the living, with all their works and wars and great buildings, were no more than the beat of a wing against the weight of time.'
'"He knows everyone in Paris, stockbrokers, people in the Government," said Richard, flushed with excitement. "He is a marvellous fellow as well. I just know he is the man to turn our little craft about and head her into the wind. I shall telegraph to Jackman. Meanwhile I am taking him to the best lunch in town. You have to spend money to make money, that's what I always say."'
- Human Traces