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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  203 ratings  ·  19 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.
ebook, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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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
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 a...more
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".

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
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 membe...more
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
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
Jo Bunt
This is a beautifully written story about the lives of two men shipped to England on the Kinder transport. It is gentle and poignant with characters made fascinating by their simplicity. At first I was a little disappointed in the book, as not much seems to 'happen' and yet I couldn't put it down and the characters have stayed with me long after I closed the book.
Lisa Kelsey
When I read one of Brookner's novels its like hearing the life story of a close friend of the family. Lovely gems, all.
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
Christopher Ammons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marie Clair
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
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 melanchol...more
3 and a half stars.
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.
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.
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 ....
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.
Pam C
should have waited until older to read this...couldn't identify with the characters who are in their old age
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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...
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“And without understanding, could each properly love the other?” 7 likes
“[...] death is only a small interruption.” 5 likes
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