25 Books to Read Before You Die
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Q&A | August 19, 2014

Richard Kadrey: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Richard Kadrey



Describe your latest book. The Getaway God is the sixth book in the Sandman Slim series. In it, the very unholy nephilim, James Stark, aka Sandman... Continue »
  1. $17.49 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

spacer

This item may be
out of stock.

Click on the button below to search for this title in other formats.


Check for Availability
Add to Wishlist

Strangers

Strangers Cover

ISBN13: 9781400068340
ISBN10: 1400068347
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Literary master Anita Brookners elegant style is manifest on every page of her brilliant new novel. Beautifully crafted and emotionally evocative, Strangers portrays the magic and depth of real life, telling the rich story of an ordinary man whose unexpected longings, doubts, and fears are universal.

Paul Sturgis is resigned to his bachelorhood and the quietude of his London flat. He occasionally pays obliging visits to his nearest living relative, Helena, his cousins widow and a doyenne of decorum who, like Paul, bears a tacit loneliness.

To avoid the impolite complications of turning down Helenas Christmas invitation, Paul sets off for a holiday in Venice, where he meets Mrs. Vicky Gardner. Younger than Paul by several decades, the intriguing and lovely woman is in the midst of a divorce and at a crossroads in her life. Upon his return to England, a former girlfriend, Sarah, reenters Pauls life. These two women reroute Pauls introspections and spark a transformation within him.

Pauls steady and preferred isolation now conflicts with the stark realization of his aloneness and his need for companionship in even the smallest degree. This awareness brings with it a torrent of feelings-reassessing his Venetian journey, desiring change, and fearing death. Ultimately, his discoveries about himself will lead Paul to make a shocking decision about his life.

Review:

"Brookner's 24th book is an often monotonous meditation on an elderly man's solitary existence. Much of the first several chapters are dedicated to 72-year-old Paul Sturgis's stuffy reflections on his attitudes toward life and loneliness. The narrative shows some promise when Sturgis meets recently divorced Vicky Gardner on a trip to Venice, but their ensuing relationship — in Venice and later, when they both return to London — is mired in a painfully polite restraint. As if in a parody of English manners, Vicky and Sturgis labor over countless afternoon teas without forming anything resembling human contact. Vicky often approaches moments of vulnerable honesty, only to act appalled if he shows any interest in these rare glimpses of humanity. Sturgis's interactions with his ex-lover Sarah, meanwhile, are slightly more candid, but these merely highlight Sturgis's painfully apparent dull formality. (They also give him more material to pontificate over.) While the novel happens in the current day, the occasional mobile phone feels as out of place as it would in, say, one of the Henry James novels that could be the inspiration for this tedious exercise in drawing-room politesse. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

Paul Sturgis, the hero of Anita Brookner's new novel, is a quiet fellow — even, by his own admission, pretty dull. In decent health at 72, he lives alone in a well-situated London flat, bolstered by a comfortable pension from the bank where he spent his working life. He has exactly one social acquaintance, his cousin's widow, to whom he pays polite Sunday visits with a sense of mutually resigned obligation.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

A Man Booker Prize-winning author called "one of the finest novelists of her generation" by "The New York Times" returns with an exquisite novel about a man, three women, and a vibrant decision.

Synopsis:

Man Booker Prize-winning author Anita Brookner--called one of the finest novelists of her generation by The New York Times--returns with an exquisite novel about a man, three women, and a vibrant decision

Retiree Paul Sturgis lives a uniformly solitary life--resigned to his bachelorhood and the quietude of his London flat. Only occasionally does he pay obliging visits to his nearest living relative, Helena, his cousin's widow.

To avoid the impolite complications of turning down Helena's Christmas invites, Paul sets off for a holiday in Venice. There he meets Mrs. Vicky Gardner, an intriguing and lovely woman in the midst of a divorce and at a crossroads in her life. Although he is avoiding new acquaintances, who might shake up his rather monotonous existence, Paul is surprised to find himself warming to the woman. Then, upon his return to England, his former girlfriend Sarah reintroduces herself into Paul's life. The two women spark a transformation within him--Paul's steady and preferred isolation now conflicts with the stark realization of his aloneness and his need for companionship. This awareness brings with it a torrent of feelings as he reassesses his life, his fears of death, and his desire for change. Ultimately, Paul's discoveries about himself lead him to make a shocking decision.

About the Author

Anita Brookner was born in London and, apart from several years in Paris, has lived there ever since. She trained as an art historian and taught at the Courtauld Institute of Art until 1988. Strangers is her twenty-fourth novel.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

OneMansView, July 29, 2009 (view all comments by OneMansView)
A study of isolation and loneliness (3.5*s)

This rather short, fortunately so, novel is a seemingly endless monologue/rumination, on the part of seventy-something Paul Sturgis, a Londoner, on a life of solitude and loneliness. Despite its unrelenting dreariness, the book is not without its insights on both personal psychological inadequacies and the sometimes trying nature of social interactions, especially for the aged.

Sturgis may have escaped his miserable childhood in a lifeless household populated by parents completely unsuited for each other, but at the cost of being tone-deaf concerning social behavior. His social overreactions usually manifested in obsessive kindness, attentiveness, and desire to understand other’s “inner” selves invariably become an irritant to women friends and lovers. Moreover, he cannot adjust to what he perceives to be their sense of entitlement, neediness, and breeziness, though he is not without admiration of their seeming strength.

Paul cannot be dismissed as a complete social misfit. He is not wrong to perceive pervasive social indifference, which he, on a daily basis, runs afoul of when he seeks to ingratiate himself with too much detail in brief encounters. It is also the basis of his fears of dying in a public venue among “strangers.” He does march on without engaging in spells of self-pity. And he is hardly alone. The wife of his deceased cousin Helena regales Paul with her expansive social life when he visits on Sunday afternoons. Upon her death, he discovers that it was all a façade: she too was friendless.

He does fantasize about escaping his unhappy life. Dreams of a romanticized past or taking long walks had more or less worked for years. He becomes convinced that shedding all responsibilities and moving to southern Europe to a life of sun and living in hotels may be the answer.

The book is rather sobering. But it does tend to become tedious and repetitious. One tends to feel bombarded with Paul’s unhappy situation. But that is offset by the author’s known ability to turn a nice phrase. Paul may be a bit of an extreme case, but if his life is any example, it is rather difficult to simply turn around one’s life regardless of self-perception and desire to do so.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400068340
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Random House
Author:
Brookner, Anita
Subject:
Self-realization
Subject:
Bachelors
Subject:
General
Subject:
London (england)
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Publication Date:
20090616
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.52 x 6.59 x 0.92 in 1 lb

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Strangers
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 256 pages Random House - English 9781400068340 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Brookner's 24th book is an often monotonous meditation on an elderly man's solitary existence. Much of the first several chapters are dedicated to 72-year-old Paul Sturgis's stuffy reflections on his attitudes toward life and loneliness. The narrative shows some promise when Sturgis meets recently divorced Vicky Gardner on a trip to Venice, but their ensuing relationship — in Venice and later, when they both return to London — is mired in a painfully polite restraint. As if in a parody of English manners, Vicky and Sturgis labor over countless afternoon teas without forming anything resembling human contact. Vicky often approaches moments of vulnerable honesty, only to act appalled if he shows any interest in these rare glimpses of humanity. Sturgis's interactions with his ex-lover Sarah, meanwhile, are slightly more candid, but these merely highlight Sturgis's painfully apparent dull formality. (They also give him more material to pontificate over.) While the novel happens in the current day, the occasional mobile phone feels as out of place as it would in, say, one of the Henry James novels that could be the inspiration for this tedious exercise in drawing-room politesse. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , A Man Booker Prize-winning author called "one of the finest novelists of her generation" by "The New York Times" returns with an exquisite novel about a man, three women, and a vibrant decision.
"Synopsis" by , Man Booker Prize-winning author Anita Brookner--called one of the finest novelists of her generation by The New York Times--returns with an exquisite novel about a man, three women, and a vibrant decision

Retiree Paul Sturgis lives a uniformly solitary life--resigned to his bachelorhood and the quietude of his London flat. Only occasionally does he pay obliging visits to his nearest living relative, Helena, his cousin's widow.

To avoid the impolite complications of turning down Helena's Christmas invites, Paul sets off for a holiday in Venice. There he meets Mrs. Vicky Gardner, an intriguing and lovely woman in the midst of a divorce and at a crossroads in her life. Although he is avoiding new acquaintances, who might shake up his rather monotonous existence, Paul is surprised to find himself warming to the woman. Then, upon his return to England, his former girlfriend Sarah reintroduces herself into Paul's life. The two women spark a transformation within him--Paul's steady and preferred isolation now conflicts with the stark realization of his aloneness and his need for companionship. This awareness brings with it a torrent of feelings as he reassesses his life, his fears of death, and his desire for change. Ultimately, Paul's discoveries about himself lead him to make a shocking decision.

spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.