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A Closed Eye

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  205 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
In A Closed Eye, Anita Brookner explores, with compassionate insight and stylistic brilliance, the self-inflicted paradoxes in the life of Harriet Lytton, a woman whose powers of submissiveness and self-denial are suddenly tested by the dizzying prospect of sexual awakening.

In Harriers gallant struggle with the single great temptation that comes her way, Brookner creates a

Published July 2nd 1992 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1991)
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Aug 13, 2009 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
suppose I came quite late to the Anita Brookner party - but now that I have I am enjoying her work immensely - and I have three more TBR. As with the other Brookner novels I have read, there is a touch of sadness here. Her characterisation is brilliant, so many small things beautifully observed, in the way people are, and behave, their hopes, fears, disappointments and secret desires laid bare with such realism. Imogen, Harriet's beautiful daughter, is such a wonderfully poignant contrast to Ha ...more
Nov 09, 2008 Cecily rated it really liked it
This novel is an exquisite hymn to loneliness. Every character in it, however inconsequential, is lonely in their own way. It is also quite analytical, describing in some detail, the main characters' inner thoughts, torments and motivations etc - even when they are not conscious of them themselves.

The first two chapters cover the end of the story, then it tells the story chronologically until it reaches the end again. Consequently, Very early on, you learn that a significant character will die.
Jul 14, 2010 Genya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This book reminded me that the star system on goodreads doesn't give me enough options for rating a book - I really need .25, .5, and some .75 stars.

A closed eye was extremely well written. However, nothing works out, for anyone, and everyone is dissatisfied and sad, (but not too sad - they are mostly comfortable with their unhappiness.) There is one exception, a fairly unlikeable character - and he might be sad and dissatisfied too, but we don't know enough about him to be sure.

Apr 05, 2014 Wisewebwoman rated it really liked it
This novel is all about loneliness, do we ever truly connect with anyone else? Several points of view are explored throughout but the writer is skilled enough to make the transitions seemless.

From the outset, through a letter written,we know that a tragedy occurs and the novel circles back to the letter, after numerous flashbacks, at the end.

There are some astute observations along the way:

"Privately she wondered if all women were disappointed, and concluded that this was probably the case but w
A very difficult book to assess. The author is skilled in examining through her heroine Harriet the thoughts of a struggling woman who in many ways is the victim of choices made by others. The one ray of happiness in her life is the unexpected child Imogen who gradually grows to disappoint, though Harriet denies the obvious and refuses to be disappointed.

All in all, this is a picture of many lives lived in pain while those living the lives pretend otherwise. Perhaps it is about survival by just
Jan 17, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok
It is clear from A Closed Eye that Anita Brookner is a skilled storyteller, but I can't say I really enjoyed the book. It was the total opposite of what I like in fiction: it was mostly internal monologue, with very little action. It certainly wasn't satisfying on a basic plot level, since it is all about the sexual repression of the main character, and the turning point of her life was NOT sleeping with the only man she ever found really attractive. She devoted her life to her daughter, and the ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Cbeth rated it it was ok
Sigh.....I picked up this book to read on an airplane trip and had I brought anything else, would never have finished this. It seems a reflection of winter in London ... grey grey grey grey grey rainy rainy gloomy sad blah ... ok you get it. I would have given it a one star rating except that the writing is articulate and there is clearly talent there (this is the only thing I have read by this author). I can only surmise that the author must have either had a sad lonely life or else is disdainf ...more
May 26, 2014 Judith rated it really liked it
I don't know why I like Anita Brookner - I think her books cannot be good for me as I read them, as I did this one, in a single setting, hoping for some light and understanding, and ending with depressing disappointment in the characters, but absolute attentiveness to the story. In this one, a woman lives not with one eye closed, but with both, at least to the outer world - she looks inward to see an impoverished life, and she pours the boundless love and energy she is unable to expend on hersel ...more
Dec 31, 2015 poingu rated it liked it
Shelves: uk
The entire book reads like a narrative summary of the book Brookner meant to write. I liked it well enough but was also disappointed there wasn't more precision and detail.
Jan 27, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: book shelf exchange at work
I picked this up off the "need a book to read" shelf at work when I was sharing a book with my brother at home and didn't have anything to read for lunch breaks. It was suprisingly good. Maybe I underestimated it because the other titles on the shelf were less than desirable-a bunch of Nora Roberts/Danielle Steel type paperbacks, but I was impressed with A Closed Eye.

The Basics:
Tells the story of Harriet Lytton who is married to an much older man, blinded by the brattiness of her spoiled daughte
Charles M.
Mar 22, 2015 Charles M. rated it liked it
Tale of three generations of women, focusing on Harriet who is encouraged to marry an older man; resulting in much unhappiness and realization of the compromises she has made with such decision. Once again, much emphasis on character development, etc. by this master present day Jane Austen.
As in all Brookner's books, 90% of the "action" takes place in the characters' heads and very little anywhere else. The title refers to *all* the main characters having a closed eye, yet also an open eye--they see what they want and ignore the rest, or choose not to cope with it. Even Lizzie's last comment about Imogen leaves the reader with some information but not the whole picture. I would have liked more narrative about Freddie's first wife. I'm not sure if the painting on the cover refers t ...more
Nov 12, 2010 Pat rated it really liked it
Anita Brookner is a favorite author of mine so I was not disappointed with this one at all. She is a master at creating characters whose innermost thoughts and feelings are so deftly revealed through stunning prose. Meet Hariette, married to a much older man (for security), having one daughter who is both distant and arrogant (but adored by her mother) who in mid-life yearns for the excitement that an affair will surely provide her--a chance to be truly an individual, a grown up...but will she e ...more
Jun 30, 2016 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Closed Eye, like much of Anita Brookner's work, is like a sad, still life painting that is best appreciated if you are, well, a sad painter in a still life. Which apparently I am, as I completely identified with the protagonist Harriet, who moves through love and loss quietly and pragmatically. It is true that Brookner writes the same story again and again, but that may just be because we live the life that we live again and again. And it wasn't until I experienced loss, and love, and love and ...more
Jul 04, 2016 Patricia rated it liked it
Enjoyed this book--an interesting theme--an easy read.
Jan 11, 2014 Fiona rated it really liked it
Another outstanding read from Anita Brookner. All praise to her. I put her in the same category as Irish Murdoch and Carol Shields. And Penelope Lively. Better than Maggie O'Farrell. A wonderful thoughtful interesting observant writer of manners, beliefs, society and relationships. Not a chick read at all.
Aug 04, 2008 Xio rated it liked it
Shelves: femaleauthors
Stream of consciousness, sort of... rather disturbing towards the end. Story of a woman's life mainly via her own thoughts but also with glimpses from her husband, friends, child, parents... She is docile and insubstantial and has no apparent desire to express her will beyond a brief obsession with the husband of a friend.

As I have only just finished it, I'm not sure what I think. It definitely left me feeling somewhat disturbed.

Brookner is a complete master of writing about women. Utterly dea
Danielle Gerhart
Jan 03, 2014 Danielle Gerhart rated it liked it
There were so many things unsaid in this book. Like why was there blood everywhere, when Lizzie thought about that day in the bookshop? Also what happened to Harriet eventually in the end. The book never said if her and Jack got to see each other.
May 25, 2012 Kerry rated it liked it
The unextraordinary, though sometimes infuriating, central character in "A Closed Eye" struggles with sexual passion for a friend's husband. This is a study of wasted opportunities and wasted lives. Set in mid-twentieth century, middle-class England, this is a delicate piece of nihilism. I found it very uncomfortable reading.
Patrice Sartor
I only made it to page 15 (3rd Chapter)before I decided to give up on this one. The writing style felt dull, I didn't care about any of the characters, and I was not intrigued by the plot or setting.
Sep 11, 2014 Kathy rated it really liked it
I love Anita Brookner's writing; she is a master of language. Her books are typically a little depressing, and this was no exception...but the prose is so lovely you have to keep reading!
Kasey Jueds
Aug 23, 2009 Kasey Jueds rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
On the one hand, I can recognize how beautifully-written her books are... but on the other, they are so unredemptive and ultimately depressing. Had to force myself to finish it.
Cassandra Clarke
Sep 11, 2012 Cassandra Clarke added it
Shelves: 2012
I adore Anita Brookner, but this book was even more depressing than her novels usually are.
Marjorie S Smith
Jul 26, 2012 Marjorie S Smith rated it did not like it
Tedious, repetitive, the characters were insipid! Didn't like and wouldn't recommend!
Jun 27, 2013 Panda rated it liked it
More lonely depressed characters not fulfilling their dreams.
Apr 07, 2009 Fredsky rated it liked it
Maddening, as it is supposed to be, at a 3.75.
Feb 27, 2009 Mollie marked it as wishlist
A Closed Eye by Anita Brookner (1993)
Jul 16, 2013 Roberta rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Bookclub. Chilly but very good.
Nina Ostrovsky
Nina Ostrovsky marked it as to-read
Aug 23, 2016
Agent added it
Aug 16, 2016
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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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