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A Friend from England
In one of her most delicate and suspenseful novels to date, Anita Brookner brings us an exquisite story of friendship and duty. Rachel Kennedy and Oscar Livingston were not precisely friends or family. Rachel had been acquanted with Oscar for some time, first as her father’s accountant, and then as her own. Part owner of a London bookshop, Rachel is thoroughly independent ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 12th 2005 by Vintage
(first published 1987)
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A masterful and introspective 'comedy of manners', set against the enigmatic secret lives and desires of Heather, and the narrator, Rachel, who is the real protagonist of this short novel. Rachel comes over as intriguing yet confused; exactly as she wishes not to be seen! We read of her going out into the night, meeting her friends - yet, we never know where it is she goes exactly, and who she is meeting. She revels in the Livingstones (a family that has befriended her, or she it - we are never ...more
Anita Brookner is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and probably my very favorite contemporary author who writes about women. I can’t get over how interesting her uneventful, rather cautious heroines are. These are absolutely not books for people who read for the action, for big dramatic scenes, or grand passions. Brookner’s writing and her characters are intelligent, almost claustrophobically restrained, and full of self-possessed dignity. The beauty of this book, and all of her books, i ...more
I consider this book to be Ms. Brookner's break-out book. This is the book in which the well-brought-up young heiress, an orphan of course, allows herself to become too involved with the family of an old friend of her father's. So far this is classic Brookner. But in the last quarter of the novel, she has finally had enough and stands up for herself. I hope this is not a spoiler. For Brookner fans, maybe it is. But I consider this to be her rip-snortin' novel, and we will never see its like agai ...more
The writing is often incisive and sometimes quite lovely, but I just don't care about these characters much. The book is NOT suspenseful as described, and the conclusion, while apparently devastating for the narrator, is utterly anticlimactic to me. The first half of the book was even downright boring. As well regarded as this author is, I want to urge her to "show" more and "tell" less.
A really suspenseful and creepy book. Reminded me a bit of Sarah Waters' Little Stranger in its all-too-knowing and completely untrustworthy narrator. She tells us what she thinks she is and shows us what she really is. Brookner a masterful writer of flowing sentences. I don't think I'll be in a hurry to read another of hers, though. I don't like getting freaked out that much! The creepiest part of all is that we're all like the narrator--or at least *I* am--walking around imposing our own world ...more
If I were rating on the quality of the writing, this book would have to be given the full five stars, but on enjoyability alone, it would have received one star. I often wonder after finishing a book like this, what initial spark brought about its conception. It's bloody hard work to complete a novel and I cannot fathom the driving force here. For me it was a dull book about dull people; uneventful and unmomentous. The narrator is disillusioned and deluded in regard to her own life and takes vic ...more
All of Anita Brookner's books are essentially the same book - quiet stories about quiet people who are complicatedly dissatisfied with their lives, and who observe someone else's life with fascination or envy - and sometimes that's all you want and it's perfect.
Too much talking, not enough happening. Actually I think the genius of this novel is probably that so little happens and yet we want to keep on reading (or in my case, listening). I found it somewhat tedious the number of times that the narrator Rachel tells us how frustrating and annoying Heather is and still she can't pull away from this odd family. I did like the ending, which is evocative of Don't Look Now, I just wish there had been a serial killer in a red anorak to spice things up a bit!
Anita Brookner is an author that I keep coming back to, and am never disappointed. Her writing is so intelligent, insightful, descriptive and British! I think the main appeal for me is the opportunity to get to “know” someone, learn how they live day-to-day, what they do, how they think and how they make their way through life. This one was particularly good. I can literally open to any page in the book and find a sentence that astounds me with its clarity and brilliance.
One of my new favorite authors. Read this book following The Visitor and Hotel DuLac. Those were 4 stars to me, this one only 3. A 30ish English woman becomes involved in the lives of a local family, with involved, interesting twists and turns in all their lives. "From London to Venice, this elegant, revealing, beautifully controlled study builds to a startling unmasking of its protagonists and their motives.
I've liked Brookner in the past but this book plodded on and on. I was interested in the narrator but soon wanted and did rush through to the end. However, two stars because Rachel and her motivations for confronting Heather in Venice would be interesting to discuss.
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 ...moreMore about Anita Brookner...