Joy H.'s Reviews > Visitors

Visitors by Anita Brookner
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Aug 03, 2011

bookshelves: fiction, favorite-author, aging, elderly-protagonist, i-copied-many-quotes-from-book, kept-me-reading
Read in August, 2011

_Visitors: A Novel_ (1997) by Anita Brookner
Added 10/28/08.
Recommended to me by a poster

8/2/11 - I just finished reading this book.Anita Brookner is one of my favorite authors. The theme of most of her stories is loneliness. This one is about Mrs. May who learns to deal with being a widow with no real relatives. The book jacket says "Penetrating perceptions about people". That's so true of all Brookner's elegant writing. She is so insightful! I recommend her. In 1984, she won the Booker Prize for Hotel du Lac.

The description of the book at says the following:
"The extraordinary Anita Brookner, praised by The New York Times as "one of the finest novelists of her generation," gives us a brilliant novel about age and awakening. In Visitors, Brookner explores what happens when a woman's quiet resignation to fate is challenged by the arrogance of youth.

"Dorothea May is most at ease in the company of strangers. When her late husband's relatives prevail on her to take in a young man for the week before an unexpected family wedding, Thea's carefully constructed, solitary world is thrown into disarray. As the wedding approaches, old family secrets surface and conflicts erupt between the generations, trapping an unwilling Thea in the middle. Confronted by the company of Steve Best, a carefree young wanderer, Thea's fragile facade of peaceful acceptance is pierced, forcing her to face in a new way both her past and her future.

"Exquisite writing, richly drawn characters, and penetrating perceptions about people are here combined into another superb novel by the writer about whom The New York Times Book Review has said, 'If Henry James were around, the only writer he'd be reading with complete approval would be Anita Brookner.' "
From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Progress

07/27/2011 "This book has drawn me in."
07/27/2011 "This book has drawn me in."

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Donna (new)

Hi Joy,
What kind of book is "Visitors", other than a novel? Is it a romance? It actually sounds like Sci-Fi; but the cover doesn't look it.
I just finished Elmore Leonard's "Touch". It was very bad. I would rate it one star.
I have to go to bed,now. I have to get a stress test done in the A.M. I must be there for 8 A.M. and it will take 4-5 hrs. No food or drink from Midnight. Doesn't that sound like fun?
All my best, Donna

message 2: by Joy H. (last edited Jul 27, 2011 05:39PM) (new) - added it

Joy H. Donna, to answer your question about the book, _Visitors_, I've added the book description to my review. I copied and pasted the description from the box at the following webpage:

An excerpt:
"Confronted by the company of Steve Best, a carefree young wanderer, Thea's fragile facade of peaceful acceptance is pierced, forcing her to face in a new way both her past and her future."
The review calls it: "a brilliant novel about age and awakening."

Donna, I hope this answers your question. The book is on my "Books-to-Read" list.

message 3: by Nina (new)

Nina Joy, you are reading one of my favorite stories by one of my authors. I know you are not supposed to judge a book by it's cover but the paper cover of this book is also one of my favorites. I confess that if a friend hadn't given me this book I probably would have bought it just for the cover. I have it displayed prominently on my bookshelf. Have you read, "Hotel du Lac?" Also, by her and also good. nina

message 4: by Joy H. (new) - added it

Joy H. Nina, I am loving this book! I can relate to all the feelings Mrs. May expresses! Anita Brookner has such sharp insights about life. I love her elegant writing style.

Yes, I read Hotel du Lac. I've enjoyed so many of Brookner's books which usually are about loneliness. She must have experienced much loneliness herself in order to be able to write about it so well.

Which book cover are you referring to? My cover shows a lady standing in a room by a window. Is that the one you like so much?

message 5: by Nina (new)

Nina Yes, I think that must be the same one. She is looking at a cabinet and a couch is behind her and there is a large window in the background. The room looks so cozy that it appealed to me. nina

message 6: by Nina (last edited Jul 29, 2011 01:45PM) (new)

Nina And I agree totally with your review. She is a joy to read. Her characterization is beyond reproach.

message 7: by Joy H. (last edited Jul 29, 2011 08:12PM) (new) - added it

Joy H. Yes, Nina, it's the depth of Anita Brookner's characterizations that's so wonderful. She seems to understand so much about human nature. I love the way she analyzes people and describes their relationships. Not only does she hold the reader's interest with a good plot, but she creates interesting characters.

As for the picture on the cover, yes, it's a cozy room. The contrast of light and dark is interesting. So is the ceiling light which looks like a round Chinese lantern. But what is that thing outside the window? It looks like a blanket hanging every which way! Very strange! Any guesses?

PS-Don't tell me, if it (the "blanket") has anything to do with the plot. I haven't finished reading the book yet.

message 8: by Nina (new)

Nina Now you have aroused my curiosity, Joy. It has been a while since I read, "Visitors," and can't remember if the blanket looking thing does have anything to do with the plot. After I finish the book I am now reading I am going to re-read Visitors. I am now reading, "The Invisible Bridge" and it is good. Very descriptive writing but not too much so to get in the way of a good story. It may not be a true page turner but I have a hard time waiting to see what happens next. The author is, Julie Orringer. Look it up and see if you think it would interest you. nina

message 9: by Joy H. (new) - added it

Joy H. Nina, the book you recommended looks interesting. I've put it on my "keep-in-mind" shelf.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

I'm a very slow reader. So it may be a while before I get to it. So many books... and such a slow reader! :)

message 10: by Nina (new)

Nina Joy, that is why you were probably a good teacher because you stuck to the details. I am a fast reader and thus miss things I shouldn't.

message 11: by Joy H. (last edited Jul 30, 2011 06:21PM) (new) - added it

Joy H. Nina, I am very detail-oriented. It does slow me down, but then again it brings me a lot of pleasure as I mull things over in my mind and try to take note of interesting insights or new perspectives or even clever word usage, expressions, and different ways of saying things. For example, here's an interesting thought from pp. 159-160 of _Visitors_:

"Old age should be a time of great and significant self-indulgence, she thought: otherwise it is too bitter."

Now there's a perspective I can appreciate! LOL

message 12: by Nina (new)

Nina I love that quote. Joy, I am a fast reader as I said, but when I find good writing; a phrase, a metaphor or similie I like I do stop and read it again. I mentioned how much I am enjoying, The Invisible Bridge," and partly it is the lovely details of the food, the service etc. Now, I am going to try to duplicate the little sandwiches a lady served in Budapest. It was simple. nina

message 13: by Joy H. (new) - added it

Joy H. Enjoy your sandwiches, Nina. :)

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