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Latecomers

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  301 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
A novel about the 50-year friendship of two dissimilar German refugees brought over to England as children from Nazi Germany. Their friendship becomes a funny yet touching model for the ways in which human beings come to terms with the tragedy of living.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 19th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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William1
Jul 30, 2011 William1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, uk
Hartmann and Fibich come to England as children before the Second World War on the historic kindertransport. They are in every sense of the phrase: displaced persons, and remain so all their lives. They meet and bond with each other in a wretched boarding school. In London they spend their childhood and adolescent years with Hartmann's Aunt Marie, before moving on to lives as successful businessmen, though their business is a frivolous one, low-brow greeting cards at one point, that neither take ...more
Becky
Nov 12, 2012 Becky rated it it was amazing
This really is a compassionate beautiful book which will touch your heart. It's central themes are of how to live with a troubled past, friendship, marriage, parenthood and accepting the aging process. The potential for it to present these in a sickly manner is immense and yet is totally avoided here. The faults and qualities of each character are explored in a manner which makes each of them seem totally real. For a novel of only moderate length emotions and events are covered with a delicate ...more
Dan
Jan 27, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why the following killer two-sentences moved me so much that I was prepared to lose my position on a jam-packed commuter train just so I could find a pencil from my bag and underline it, but it did, and here it is:

'I look tired,' Yvette said with some surprise, scanning her face under the cruel lighting. Not tired, thought Chrstine: it is more serious than that".

Hugh
Sep 30, 2016 Hugh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2016
I wanted to read this after reading a recent Guardian article on Brookner's novels other than the Booker winner Hotel du Lac, which was the only one I had read. This is a poised and reflective study of memory, loss and how different people handle it. At its centre are Hartmann and Fibich, lifelong friends and business partners who met as schoolboy refugees from Germany in the Kindertransports. Brookner contrasts the "voluptuary" Hartmann with the haunted brooding Fibich, and gets inside the ...more
Jim
Jun 24, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing
This is my fourth Brookner and it won’t be my last. There’s been no logic to my selection, just whatever one happens to come my way, and it’s pretty easy to see why those who like her really like her but also why her detractors accuse her of simply writing the same book over and over. Her palate is not a broad one and you can think of her as limited or you can call her a specialist; I’m not sure at this stage in her life either description would worry her because this is what she’s done and you ...more
Sterlingcindysu
May 30, 2016 Sterlingcindysu rated it liked it
There are so many new words in any Brookner book that I feel that I should take the SATs after reading one. Such as:

Fingerspitzengefühl is a German term, literally meaning "finger tips feeling" and meaning intuitive flair or instinct.

Voluptuary definition, a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit and enjoyment of luxury and sensual pleasure.

Brookner's books are very dense and focus more on the characters than plot. In this case, two boys come to England from Germany; one adapts easily to hi
...more
Rita
Mar 04, 2013 Rita rated it really liked it
1988.
Bravo! How does Brookner do it! In so few lines she shows you a character, a personality, a relationship.

This is not a one-main-character novel. You get two men, their two wives, the two children, all at various ages. Plus some great walk-on parts by Yvette's elderly [French] mother, the window-washer, a girlfriend of the son...

Brilliant theme [one of several] to contrast the two couples' emotional responses to their children - each couple feeling much more at home with the other couple's c
...more
Cecily
Aug 01, 2008 Cecily rated it really liked it
Story of friends and business partners who first met at school in England as refugees from Germany, though like many of her books, if she didn't say when it was set, you probably wouldn't guess. Fibitch and Hartman are very different in personality and how they cope with loss and trauma from their childhoods, and indeed the troubles that come afterwards in their outwardly successful lives, but they have an intense friendship that lasts throughout their lives, so that each is closer to some ...more
Tracy
Jun 16, 2012 Tracy rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ebook, kindle
I really enjoyed the characterization/character study nature of it. I thought there was some unevenness in depiction, however and I would have liked a bit more understanding of Toto. He didn't feel real or well-done individually or in his relationships with his parents. At times Brookner almost seems to suggest him as sociopathic and none of that fit the rest of the novel. That disconnection is what pushed this down from a 4 (or possibly more) to a 3 for me.

Hartmann and Fibich's friendship is j
...more
Drew
Jul 30, 2015 Drew rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
As Holocaust novels go, "Latecomers" stands on its own, addressing as it does two successful British entrepreneurs who escaped as mostly unaware children. The deeper of the two is haunted; the other, shallow and vain. A bromance of sorts, Anita Brookner's novel is, like many of her works, about half-realized lives, and as such, a cautionary tale that also elicits our sympathies for people we wish were a little bit braver.
Lisa Kelsey
Jul 19, 2009 Lisa Kelsey rated it really liked it
When I read one of Brookner's novels its like hearing the life story of a close friend of the family. Lovely gems, all.
Ruth
Oct 01, 2016 Ruth rated it really liked it
Oddly enchanting.
Peggy Aylsworth
Though at the outset Latecomers was promising, it didn't quite live up
to my expectation. The writing itself is fine...at times very beautiful
and inspiring, but on the whole there is too much repetition of the
characters personalities. It is a relief to read a book of Brookner's
that isn't just about a sad woman, disappointed in love.

The focus here is on two close men friends of very different temperaments...
who become business partners...and about their families.
Christopher Ammons
Oct 09, 2009 Christopher Ammons rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Scarlett
Jun 28, 2016 Sarah Scarlett rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book. The first sentence - in fact the whole first paragraph - is a masterpiece of description. How often is someone described as a voluptuary these days, perfect. All the characters are well drawn. And immensely likeable (with the possible exception of the ghastly Roger). Always melancholy and poignant (common to her writing generally I think), yet with optimism and written with such lightness of touch. Although only 200 pages it took me quite a while to read because every word ...more
Marie Clair
Aug 17, 2013 Marie Clair rated it it was amazing
I've found a new author, and she's prolific. Will she maintain my interest and the standard I enjoyed so much in 'Latecomers'? I intend to find out.
'Hartmann, a voluptuary, lowered a spoonful of brown sugar crystals into his coffee cup, then placed a square of bitter dark chocolate on his tongue, and while it was dissolving, lit his first cigarette.'
Opening sentence 'Latecomers' Anita Brookner. Delicious sentence - perhaps 'a voluptuary' is an oxymoron? Not to nit pick, the rest of the book is
...more
GONZA
Apr 02, 2014 GONZA rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, the plot was clear, and somehow it was the story of a redemption, at least partially successful. Unfortunately the vein of melancholy and sadness that goes through it, somehow prevented me from fully enjoying it, maybe it was not the right time to read it ....

Questo libro mi é piaciuto, la storia era ben raccontata ed in qualche modo era la storia di un riscatto, almeno parzialmente riuscito. Purtroppo la vena di malinconia e di tristezza che lo attraversa, mi ha in qualche mo
...more
Steffi
Vordergründig geht es um zwei Männer, die als Kinder aus Deutschland nach London kamen: Auf der Flucht vor den Nazis, die Eltern kamen um. Diese Vergangenheit spielt zwar unterschwellig immer wieder eine Rolle, wichtiger aber ist der beschriebene Prozess des Älterwerdens, die Ehen der beiden mit den ebenso zentralen Frauen, die Beziehungen zu den Kindern, der historische Kontext, der das Bild von Hausfrauentum und Sexualität prägt, ebenso ein gewisses Standesbewusstsein. Teilweise sehr ...more
Patricia
Aug 23, 2016 Patricia rated it liked it
This is a deep dive character development and slow moving examination of the lives of Thomas Hartmann and Thomas Fibich two German boys sent to England during WWII. The novel examines their adult lives, marriages to Yvette Hartmann and Christine Hardy Fibich, and their young adult children Marianne Hartmann and Toto Fibich.
If you want a novel with "action" this isn't happening in this book. Instead this is a well done examination of the lives of six very closed introverted individuals.
Jean Kelly
Feb 14, 2016 Jean Kelly rated it really liked it
The same terrific effort but I think this is the first Brookner novel I have read where the men, women and male and female children are developed and worked with. This story deals with lives of two men who have succeeded in life but whose spirit and inner energy are still very much a product of the life they fled from as children.
Rina
Aug 08, 2013 Rina rated it it was ok
have read Anita Brookner before. think this is the last of hers that I will read. to me this book sounded like a thesis. of course there was dialog but still...not enough to suit me. maybe I did not understand the story or maybe the story was pointless...not sure, maybe it was just too deep for me.
Khalekan
Good enough read but not a book I would be recommending to others.

The prose is excellent and the depictions of the characters are evocative......but no matter how well written it is, at the end of the day a novel needs to tell some kind of a story and alas Latecomers fails to do this.

Two old blokes married to two old dames. End of.
A.J.
Feb 02, 2013 A.J. rated it liked it
This isn't a book to read if you're looking for action or dialogue. It's a gentle, insinuating sort of novel. You come to care about the main characters very much, even though not a lot happens to them. It's almost a four-star read, but I did keep checking the page count to see how much further I had to go and that's my definition of a book that doesn't quite make the four-star grade.
Pam C
Sep 10, 2011 Pam C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
should have waited until older to read this...couldn't identify with the characters who are in their old age
Lucy
Sep 13, 2014 Lucy rated it it was amazing
A companion to Night, perhaps. Complex, opaque, melancholy, evocative. Sad that these characters' lives seem preferable to our 2014 situation in many respects. Therefore also a time capsule ....
Henry Jefferies
Jun 15, 2016 Henry Jefferies rated it it was amazing
Remarkable writing. One of Brookner's very best. I recommend it without reservation. Fibich's homecoming was stunningly written.
gaudeo
Aug 24, 2011 gaudeo rated it liked it
A thorough, affectionate character study of two men, lifelong friends, and their wives and children. Nothing much "happens" in this book, but its insights into life are familiar and reassuring.
Kelly
Kelly rated it really liked it
Jul 13, 2014
Mariana
Mariana rated it really liked it
Jan 25, 2012
Alison
Alison rated it liked it
Nov 19, 2014
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Anita Brookner published her first novel, A Start In Life in 1981. Her most notable novel, her fourth, Hotel du Lac won the Man Booker Prize in 1984. Her novel, The Next Big Thing was longlisted (alongside John Banville's, Shroud) in 2002 for the Man Booker Prize. She has published over 25 works of fiction, notably: Strangers (2009) shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Fraud (1992) ...more
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“And without understanding, could each properly love the other?” 8 likes
“[…] as if the next thing must quickly come along to occupy her, or the abyss might open. What abyss? The abyss that waits for all of us, when all our actions seem futile, when the ability to fill the day seems stalled, and the waiting takes on an edge of dread. ” 8 likes
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