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The Bay Of Angels

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  283 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Despite growing up with a widowed and reclusive mother, young Zoë Cunningham retains an unshakable faith in storybook happy endings. When her mother, Anne, finally decides to remarry, Zoë is thrilled with her prospective stepfather, Simon Gould, who is not only wealthy, but also kind and generous. Simon’s affection for his new family allows Zoë to pursue what she thinks is ...more
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published 2001 by Viking Press
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Oct 02, 2011 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Susan
Carefully wrought prose, like setting ornaments on a shelf in a just so manner.
It is the story of a young woman's entrance into adulthood told in the first person. Her passivity and determined naivete are irritating, especially in the context of her constant assertions that she is an independent and emancipated woman. She is completely dependent on, and constantly seeks, paternalistic oversight of some sort, and yet rarely or only obliquely acknowledges that reliance.
Some of the scenes were to
Roderick Hart
This is an anaemic book, making far too much use of narrative by analysis. But for the characteristic bleakness it might be thought of as blue stocking Mills and Boon.

I am also uncomfortable with the reaction of the ladies in the home to male visitors, for whom they brighten considerably more than they do for female visitors. This doesn't accord with my experience visitng a home for the elderly.

This author has written the same novel too many times. How many women with thin lives do we need to
Teresa D
Apr 18, 2014 Teresa D rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found myself increasingly annoyed and irritated as I read this book,in fact I would quite happily have slapped Zoe !

The Optimist's Daughter meets The Wings of the Dove, set against the glaring light of the Med, The Bay of Angels made me feel horribly sad. (view spoiler) This was not the book that I wanted to read about Nice. I wanted a romance and some adventure and a name-dropped cafe or bar I could go to and have a drink at like Zoe Cunningham did in The Bay of Angels, but neither Zoe nor her author were helping m

Sondra Wolferman
A self-absorbed young woman raised as an only child by a single mother has her life turned upside down when her reclusive mother suddenly decides to marry a wealthy older man and move to a villa in the south of France with her new husband. The grown daughter is left behind in London, albeit with a flat of her own, a fat bank account, and a cheating boyfriend. For the next several years the daughter travels back and forth between London and Nice (to visit her mom) enjoying her new-found freedom a ...more
Feb 04, 2009 Chana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A monologue of the main character's mental meanderings. Boring in the extreme, even in her profoundest moments. It is gracefully written, but not a story I cared for. I read it part of the way through a number of months ago and quit before it induced a coma. This time I saw it through without more than a few extra naps. According to the dust jacket this is a very admired book and author.
Ron Charles
Dec 09, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's become a cliche to call Anita Brookner the modern Henry James, but with her latest novel, she's outdone the fusty old master. Some future genius will have to be called the modern Anita Brookner.

"The Bay of Angels," her 20th elegant novel, perfects an examination of loneliness that threatened to grow monotone in her last few books. Yet here, remarkably, she makes another quantum leap into psychological depth, splitting the atoms of human nature and tracing the particles that veer off.

Her nar
Sep 21, 2008 Monica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A depressing story of aging, changing responsabilities, strength and old-fashioned expectations and roles but not in a good way. Mixed in the middle of this book are brief interludes of hope shown in Adam and Dr. Balbi but conveniently come across in a very sexist manner. I get it. That's the point but it is done in a completely unrefreshing way. I was almost sicked by the shock expressed when rare strength was shown in women. Again I get it but I cannot appreciate the approach. Maybe my coming ...more
Dolores Abbott
Aug 11, 2012 Dolores Abbott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed The Bay of Angels by Anita Brookner. I particularly admire the way she susses out the intricacies of emotions attached to human interaction -- it is such an organized approach to description, her method of describing what's going on inside people's heads as they observe life. I am quite astounded by it. It has changed the way I will regard my own life.

Brookner's vocabulary is also thought-provoking, stimulating, and inspiring. I had to look up words I had never seen before.
May 15, 2009 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mod-lit
Anita Brookner has written not so much a coming of age story as a coming to terms story. Zoe Cunningham narrates her own life story, beginning with her childhood as the daughter of a reclusive but kind widow who takes good care of her but teaches her nothing about coping with any of life's vicissitudes.
I found this book to be a totally whiney, mopey self-indulgent book that was difficult to read. Long, boring passages, lots of foreign phrases with no basis for context. All in all, a colossal waste of my time.
Jan 04, 2010 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anita Brookner writes beautiful prose. I enjoyed her writing more than the story she told.
Michael Caylo-Baradi
Again, it's not so much the plot with Brookner, but the prose. It shines.
May 31, 2016 Diana rated it liked it
The Bay of Angels revolves around the relationship between Zoe Cunningham and her widowed mother. I found this rather a strange book. Nothing much happens...actually things do happen, but Brooker doesn't devote many words to the events that happen. Instead she fills the book with the internal judgements and scrutiny of Zoe.

Zoe is an independent, yet lonely woman who seems to judge her happiness and worth on the basis of male interest. She appears to believe that every woman, including her mothe
Jul 26, 2015 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bay of Angels was Anita Brookner’s 20th novel – sadly she hasn’t published a novel since 2009, a short story was released as an ebook in 2011. Still, she has had a wonderfully prolific career, particularly when you consider she didn’t publish anything until she was in her 50’s.

Our narrator; Zoe Cunningham is in many ways a typical Brookner character; I found her a little warmer and more sympathetic than some Brookner female characters. Zoe is a young woman who yearns for independence but her
May 03, 2015 Deane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I kept thinking something 'exciting' is surely going to happen to Zoe or her mother....but they just kept plodding along in such a boring routine. Felt I was reading the same sentences over and over only in a different paragraph. Wondered how Zoe could fill a whole day after checking at the hospice early in the morning....she wasn't allowed to see her mother; just check in with the nurses and then she seemed to do little but wander the streets of Nice until time to head back to her barely furnis ...more
Mihaela Claudia
Second reading, undertaken to figure out why Brookner's prose attracts me so irresistibly though I find her style claustrophobic and her arguments about the relationship between men and women badly reasoned. My conclusions after second reading? The attraction is the same as that of wearing a corset: it gives you a sense that the world holds together because you are held together. The repulsion comes from Brookner's condescension. She condescends very elegantly, very subtly, which makes it all th ...more
Oct 19, 2009 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mother/daughter pair lives a retiring life. Mother re-marries and relocates to France while daughter finishes colleges. But Mom’s new husband isn’t quite as wealthy as he seems and when he dies, daughter is plunged (as much as Brookner ever plunges her heroines into anything) into coping with her mother’s declining health and their equally declining finances. And odd and quiet relationship with the nursing home Doctor saves the daughter from total seclusion.
Apr 28, 2011 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was rather disappointing for me, and I'm a huge fan of Brookner's work. The story just didn't seem to develop, and I really couldn't relate to the characters. Usually in Brookner's work characters undergo psychological change or gain deep insight into their lives and emotions; in this one nothing much seemed to happen. This is my least favorite of Brookner's novels, and I'd place it last in my recommendations for a reader looking to study Anita Brookner's works.
Jun 10, 2016 Bev rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Anita Brookner's skill in uncovering the innermost thoughts and emotions of her characters but this book suffered from lack of plot. It is a self-reflection on Zoe's life as a younger woman, as she becomes increasingly independent but still tied to her widowed mother. The big ah-ha was her realization that solitude suited her. Not a lot happens in the 217 pages, but the writing is beautiful.
Jeffrey Stalk
How youthful beliefs in fairy-tales are replaced by the demands of real life and, in the end, the acceptance of what life has to offer. Ms. Brookner is one of my favorite authors who can make extraordinary stories about ordinary life.
Aug 09, 2010 Maureen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If this is not as depressing as Brookner's other books, I don't know if I can carry on reading them. Dear lord, the characters bring you down but "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way." I have forgotten that characteristic.
Jan 12, 2017 Leeny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
I couldn't finish this after perserving for quite a while.
I could not stand the passivity and lack of get up and go in both these women.
I felt like putting a rocket up the daughter.
Set in the era leading up to women's lib, I couldn't stomach the reliance on men.
Feb 11, 2013 Barcar26 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loving Brookners books as I do, Bay of Angels was no exception. The prose is concise, the plot prissily British! Enjoyed the read.
Apr 12, 2016 Navpreet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring. Didn't care for any of the characters.
Aug 04, 2009 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Way too dark and maudlin.
Not so great. Depressing kinda book, though it has a bit of hope at the end. Now I need to read something more lighthearted.
Moira Davies
Well written, sone insight and a soppy strange ending.
Sofia Vargas
Sep 17, 2012 Sofia Vargas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inacabados
Forcei-me a ler, mas não consegui passar da página 98... Não percebo como é um Booker Prize... Parece-me extremamente banal e enfadonho... talvez o final compense de algum modo.
Jul 23, 2012 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little more happened in this Brookner novel than in the last I read, but I still wanted to shake the protagonist out of her passivity. Passive suffering seems to be a theme of hers.
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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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