'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.
This is one of the best novels Brookner has written. I was mesmerised from start to finish, and it is shot through with a maturity and depth of perception that leaves you breathless with admiration.
As a novelist Anita Brookner is both infinitely various and adorably unique.
Witty, painful, often moving in their bleak truthfulness, Anita Brookner's novels show mastery in a very specific genre. This quiet novel is yet another reminder that she is a novelist whose art and understanding are much wider than the world she chronicles so chillingly.