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Look at Me

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  493 ratings  ·  51 reviews
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. Reprint. 12,500 first printing.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 24th 1985 by Plume (first published 1983)
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Dorothy
This is a book where nothing much happens, and the protagonist ends up in exactly the same place she was when she started.

Fannie is intelligent, attractive, well-off and utterly unhappy. She seems to exist in a kind of glass house, forever looking through the windows and yearning for a life that she is too afraid to get. Enter Nick and Alex, who seem to be bursting with the kind of vitality that Fannie lacks. She falls in with them, has a brief, glorious existence, and is burned, in short order...more
ester
I can't read any more Anita Brookner. Though lovely, her books are heartbreaking and frustrating in equal measure. I want to shake their sedate, mistreated protagonists and leave them with Betty Friedan in one hand and a vibrator in the other.
Briynne
This book was upsetting, but really good. Brookner has a scary talent for presenting her characters with absolutely no window dressing. Frances was beautifully drawn; her sense of honor in the face of her lonliness was heartbreaking, and her quiet eagerness for acceptance and love was even more so. I hate saying it, but in retrospect, it reminds me of the classic "popular kids pick up a shy girl, let her into their circle, and eventually destroy her" storyline. Only literary, set in England, and...more
Jim Coughenour
For once a thing is known, it can never be unknown. It can only be forgotten.

I'm not sure I even know what that means, but it must be important because the narrator says it several times. Maybe it's referring to the experience of reading Brookner. I read Hotel du Lac at some dim point in the 80s and I remember not a single thing. Except the gauzy cover. For some reason that stuck.

My friend Gerald who knows everything sent me this book, and hinted that it was autobiographical. I hope he's a littl...more
Amanda
Brilliant, enigmatic, heartbreaking: "Look At Me" is a little masterpiece, a portrait (told in carefully controlled first person) of a lonely young unmarried woman who is taken up by a careless, heartless, glamorous couple, used as a time as their plaything – induced to fall in love (not that she will admit this to herself) with a friend of theirs – and then discarded without ever knowing the reason why. For such a short book, with such a simple narrative arc, "Look At Me" vibrates with nuance:...more
Jess
"Problems of human behavior still continue to baffle us, but at least in the Library we have them properly filed." When I came across this line on page one, I was sold. I'd picked this up on a whim months ago, after cataloging several Anita Brookner titles for the library (in my old position, when I processed most of the adult fiction). Then I let it sit on my shelf for ages, since it seemed quiet and slow in comparison to all the shiny new books I had checked out. And it is a fairly quiet novel...more
Sarah Sammis
Look at Me by Anita Brookner is in the "Love" section of the Guardian's 1001 books you must read. I didn't read it because it's on the list. Frankly, I had forgotten it was on the list. I read it simply because I liked the title.

Look at Me (1983) is Brookner's third novel, coming the year before Hotel du Lac (which won the Booker). It's a short, introspective look at a moment of hope turned to disappointment. It's more mood piece than novel, filled with carefully chosen words and phrases.

At the...more
Luisa Fer
Loneliness is never easy to portray in a book. It is very easy to say:She felt lonely, or he was alone.
The only true way to see it through a page is by reading Anita Brookner, the master of loneliness. She shows, she makes the reader feel it deep inside. The lifestyle of the lonely is one that resides very deep in our imagination. Something we never want to experience.

These days people will tap their cellphone the minute they feel it. If there isn't someone on the other side to pick up even for...more
Kathleen Maguire
This was the first Anita Brookner I ever read, and by far the one that was most affecting. I read it at a time in my life when it was probably the worst idea to do so, because there are no happy endings with Brookner, even when the main character is not aging and (voluntarily) isolating. An intense read for any woman who is single and wishing she were not, and not for the faint of heart. Face up and sing. Five stars indeed.
Devika
I love this book at a very personal level. There is something so perfect about the way Brookner describes ordinary people and their little lives. Her observations are so sharp and always ring true. The way she unravels the deepest insecurities and fears of her protaginist leaves you feeling like you have been introduced to a real individual who you now understand like an old friend.
Stephanie
It's been a long time since I read such a well written novel. Look at Me is short, but took me a while to get through because I found myself rereading many passages purely for their eloquent language. I wanted to savor every word. Look at Me is sort of sad and melancholy, but beautiful at the same time. If that sounds like something you'd be into, give it a whirl...
Danielle
This one goes out to all the loners. This novel reminds me of the Sartrean line of thought that one can either live or write about living, but cannot do both at once. If you've ever felt the dichotomy between vitality and insight, you'll get it.
Jane Anne
One of my 2 faves of hers -- other one being UNDUE INFLUENCE. It's so intriguing, her subject matter of wonderful, observant, but 'odd' women seeking love only to fall on their faces. RUN, DON'T WALK, and get these books.
Roderick Hart
I read this book many years ago, before I started taking notes on the books I had read. I remember defacing it in several places with a yellow highlighter, ideas/expressions I liked. Since then I have read several later books by this author, none of which interested me as much as this one did.

The composer Anton Bruckner has been accused of writing the same symphony nine times. The novelist Anita Brookner could be accused of dealing with the same topic rather more often than that. Some women end...more
Sloane Tanen
Another one of my favorite writers. A master in the study of loneliness and being an outsider.
Jim
If they were ever looking for a tour guide for the Sahara Desert they should give this lady a ring. She can talk about nothing for pages and hold your interest. I’d only read one book by her before—Family and Friends—but from what I’ve read about her I think this one is more typical:

The recurring criticism of Brookner as a novelist is that she ploughs a narrow furrow. She is mindful of the observation. Julian Barnes remembers lunching with Brookner and asking what she was working on at the momen
...more
Roberta
Non bello come Providence, che per il momento rimane la mia cartina di tornasole per la Brookner, ma comunque molto apprezzato. I romanzi della Brookner sono tutti simili, eppure vale sempre la pena di leggere il successivo.

Frances Hinton lavora come bibliotecaria presso un istituto medico, vive nella stessa casa che era dei suoi genitori insieme ad una specie di governante ereditata dalla madre e insieme a tutti i mobili e le suppellettili che la madre usava. Ha solo un'amica, la collega Olivia...more
Vale
Sulla trama in copertina, segue scritto il commento: "Degna del confronto con le eroine di Jane Austen, Frances Hinton è una delle più riuscite figure femminili della narrativa inglese contemporanea..." ...AHAHAHAHAHAH! Ma non fatemi ridere! Niente a che vedere con la Austen. E se Frances Hinton è una delle più riuscite figure femminili della narrativa inglese contemporanea, siamo messi proprio male.
Romanzetto cerebrale (o pippa mentale che dir si voglia) che racconta di Frances, una donna che i...more
Arwen56
Sarebbe stato un tema interessante quello proposto. Una solitudine che deriva da un certo tipo di educazione che risente, benché siano passati molti anni, degli ancora vivi stereotipi vittoriani, unita alle esigenze di isolamento che la concentrazione della scrittura sicuramente richiede. Se non fosse che …

… se non fosse che alla protagonista di questo romanzo, Frances Hinton, potremmo tranquillamente attribuire il titolo di regina delle “pippe mentali”. Dopo un po’ che la leggi, ti cresce dent...more
B. Morrison
This early novel by Brookner is about Frances Hinton, a not-young woman who works in the reference library of a medical research institute and does not like to be called Fanny. Her life is a lonely one, lightened only by her friend and co-worker Olivia, a woman who is never discomposed. Frances says that “Problems of human behavior still continue to baffle us, but at least in the Library we have them properly filed.” She shares with us the antics of the regular patrons of the library, including...more
Rita
1981. Awfully good author. The whole book is a monologue [with bits of dialogue] by a young woman who reflects a very great deal on herself. It's painful to read because of being so spot-on about her longings and her loneliness [though she does have a couple of friends, thank goodness - I don't like to read about people who don't have one single friend].

When she is not working at the library, she writes, and says about it [and you want to know, does Brookner herself feel like this about writing?...more
Mariah Burton Nelson
Even after writing many books and articles, I never really thought about my work as a way to say "Look at me" until reading this novel. (I might have thought of it as "listen to me," but that has a different connotation.) The writer is trying not only to get heard, but to get SEEN. To become visible. To be perceived and understood.

Another place I saw myself: "Alix had obviously found him interesting and with her usual expertise was what my mother would have called 'drawing him out.' I paid parti...more
heidi
The plot seems to be nothing much, yet the story haunts me days after I've finished reading this book. There's something about Brookner's way of writing that just pulls you into the world she created.

The thing about Frances that seems remarkable to me is how ordinary she is, how routine her life is, how... very like me. Maybe that's why so many readers relate to her character. You just feel for her and feel bad for her when she finds out that she's being used by the people around her.

Without spo...more
Louise Self
I savoured this short book, taking the time to make sure I sucked the whole story up. It's like one long narrative and although that gives you only one perspective on the characters, you know Fanny well enough as a reader to be able to see where she is being naive or simply in denial.
I spent the whole book rooting for her; she's very relatable and I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt wronged by someone they trusted.
Kathy Skaggs
A hard book to read. You know from the beginning how it will end. The beauty of the book lies in its complete description of Frances's inner musings. In this, it never falters.
Elaine
Anita Brookner teases and puzzles me. Her character, Frances Hinton's thoughts and feelings written in the first person seem almost impossible to separate from what one would imagine were Brookner's own. That being said, the map that Brookner lays out for Frances follows paths that eventually seem to lead her back to her starting point. Since her life felt unfulfilled and she lives it as a self-desecribed observer, her journey's end leaves the reader with the sadness and dissatisfaction of a lif...more
Maria
I think I've discovered a new favorite author! This is the most engrossing book in which nothing really happens that I've ever read. I stayed up until 2 reading just to see all the ways that Brookner would come up with to describe how lonely the protagonist is, and how manipulative her friends are. I was picturing Nick and Alix as a 1980s Tom and Daisy Buchanan, which made the novel even more gripping somehow.
Also, this novel got me thinking about how it sounds like chick-lit when described bec...more
Christopher
You know nothing is going to work out for the (depending on your perspective) hapless or just slightly too good and innocent narrator from page one. Whether you enjoy 192 pages of identifying with things you would rather not remember having felt and feeling the slow slide to the inevitable desolation at the conclusion will have a lot to do with your take on the book. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word, but I did have a perverse appreciation for Look at Me as I ground my teeth through it. Exhibit 1: c...more
Drew
Composed as "Look at Me" is of small moments, I'll probably forget most of the contents within a matter of months but having just emerged from this thrillingly depressing book, I'd label myself an Anita Brookner fan. Both this novel and "Falling Slowly" (which I read earlier this year and can't remember much about except liking) are beautifully written accounts of people fearfully retreating from the world. Or maybe they're eloquent portraits of rejects. Either way, I feel as though I've found m...more
Fnouristani
Beautifully written, I could feel Frances' lonelines...but none of the characters were likeable including Frances...I found myself not relating to any of them. I understood that Frances was infatuated with these shallow people who were clearly using her for their amusement and offered her no real friendship because she was so lonely and wanted to belong...but she also knew that they would discard her the minute they were bored with her regardless of her feelings...
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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, "Fr...more
More about Anita Brookner...
Hotel du Lac The Rules of Engagement Leaving Home Strangers Altered States

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“It was then that I saw the business of writing for what it truly was and is to me. It is your penance for not being lucky. It is an attempt to reach others and to make them love you. It is your instinctive protest, when you find you have no voice at the world's tribunals, and that no one will speak for you. I would give my entire output of words, past, present and to come, in exchange for easier access to the world, for permission to state "I hurt" or " I hate" or " I want". Or indeed, "Look at me". And I do not go back on this. For once a thing is known it can never be unknown. It can only be forgotten. And writing is the enemy of forgetfulness, or thoughtlessness. For the writer there is no oblivion. Only endless memory.” 7 likes
“For once a thing is known, it can never be unknown. It can only be forgotten.” 6 likes
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