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Making Things Better

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  103 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Facing life alone at an advanced age, Julius Herz cannot shake the sense that he should be elsewhere, doing other things. Walking through bustling streets that seem increasingly alien to him, he’s confronted by life’s pressing questions with an urgency he has never known before: what do we owe the people in our lives? How should we fill our days? Feeling fortified despite ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Vintage (first published 2003)
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Jan 02, 2015 Brandy rated it it was amazing
This one surprised me. I'm a fair weather fan of books that highlight life regrets so obviously. But Anita Bookner nailed it, and quite poetically, too. Don't we all have regrets in life that we wish we could write about? That we could reflect upon later in life? I enjoyed the analytical rants (and yes, some of them are lengthy) she shares because don't we all over analyze the things we wish we could change? Well done.
Ron Charles
Dec 14, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who really wants to read Anita Brookner's repellently accurate novels about the intricacies of loneliness? I'm sure this isn't a question that troubles the Booker Prize-winning author, who's managed to publish a book a year since 1981. But a critic confronting her 21st novel has to wonder if readers want to subject themselves to Brookner's searing insight. Indeed, Making Things Better is a sort of literary toothache, an all-absorbing pain that brings thoughts into unwelcome clarity.

At 73, Julius
Mary Lou
Jan 28, 2011 Mary Lou rated it liked it
This seemed to me something of an updated version of Edith Wharton's House of Mirth, but with a male lead character. Herz had devoted his life to carrying out his obligations to his family members, and finds himself alone and lonely. He attempts to reconnect with a female cousin for whom he once had strong romantic feelings. Meanwhile, his carefully constructed life alone is feeling encroachment from all sides--the shop owner who owns the space below his apartment has sold out to another shop. E ...more
Aug 03, 2016 Konstantin rated it liked it
Shelves: serious
[rating = B-]
Miss Brookner has a very good hand at writing; it is clear from each paragraph that she can apply language in very detailed and orderly ways. This book is much like her others, focusing on loneliness, other's happiness over one's own, trying to move on or somewhere else. She has very mundane actions but to her characters they are momentous. Herz has given up his life, essentially, the making better of others. The next big thing is for him to move on and conquer his own wants. Althou
Robert Palmer
Jul 27, 2015 Robert Palmer rated it liked it
If you have read one of Anita Brookner's novels,you would know that they are all pretty much the same. The leading character is living a life of quiet desperation, the only thing different about this novel is that it's a man rather than a woman.
May 08, 2012 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The only reason why I rated this a two was because I am fan of this author,otherwise it will get a one. I am very disappointed after reading this book, it lost the charm and tranquility of her other novels that I read. There were some highlights in the novel like the friendship that Hertz had with his social friends, the regrets about what he did not do and the family he loved. On the other hand, what disappointed me about this book greatly was that the author included unnecessary characters. Th ...more
Charles M.
Jan 04, 2016 Charles M. rated it liked it
Yet another character analysis...this regarding Herz who looks back on his life and into the future.
Neal Calvin
Similar to "The Remains of the Day"
Mar 27, 2016 Deelighted rated it did not like it
I found this book to be very depressing and kept putting it aside to read other books. All the main character did was to rehash his life over and over again.
Aug 22, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it
Anita Brookner is one of my favorite authors. I have read a number of her books including Hotel Du Lac, Look at Me, Family and Friends, Latecomers. She is a psychologically astute writer who's books are introspective and dense.... definitely not for everyone, but I am always enriched by her insight and elegant writing style. Don't read her for plot, read her for intense character development.
Jun 20, 2007 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: introspective people
a good writer who goes on and on about the inner lives of noninteresting people and makes them very interesting. Her books are the reason I bought a teapot and started drinking tea, because she makes that interesting too. I didn't like the ending of this book too much, because it seemed calculated to bemuse one, but I suppose it was the best ending.
Thom Dunn
Felt for protagonist Herz the kind of exquisite pain one sometimes receives in a dentist's chair. The book as a whole, simply exquisite. As "small" an heroic tale as one will find, yet the tale of a hero all the same. Joseph Campbell, receive an honored guest.
Jasmine Bachrach
Jan 11, 2010 Jasmine Bachrach is currently reading it
Just got my whole comment deleted because this site said it was too long. Great. I'll have to remember to copy what I'm writing regularly! Anyways, the short version of what I wrote is I'm looking forward to seeing what's going to happen next in this book.
Oct 03, 2008 Lora rated it really liked it
I had to skip parts because of the detail, I felt a little bogged down. Then I read the ending, which was good, but couldn't go back to read the parts I skipped.
Laila (BigReadingLife)
A solid Brookner effort, but not my favorite. She is such a lovely writer, though - it's easy to get lost in her exquisite, melancholy prose.
Jul 29, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
this is the british publication of (same book as) the next big thing
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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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