Synopses & Reviews
In A Closed Eye, Anita Brookner explores, with compassionate insight and stylistic brilliance, the self-inflicted paradoxes in the life of Harriet Lytton, a woman whose powers of submissiveness and self-denial are suddenly tested by the dizzying prospect of sexual awakening.
In Harriers gallant struggle with the single great temptation that comes her way, Brookner creates a hauntingly flawed heroine and a study in the evasions and disappointments that make up all our lives.
"Brookner's latest novel reads like a clinical report on loneliness, idleness, and the inability of people to relate to one another. Her characters are unconvincing, even though she jumps in and out of their consciousnesses to report on their reflections and speculations. Her interminable analysis, with little dialogue or action, and unsympathetic characters, makes tedious reading. The story centers on Harriet Lytton who, having grown up poor in a cramped life, marries a man her father's age hoping his money will ease life for her and her parents. Like other Brookner heroines, she is a meek, self-effacing woman who allows herself to be used by a self-centered, vain, flashy friend. Her vain, arrogant daughter, whom she adores, dominates her. Brookner is a respected art historian and former lecturer at the Cortauld Institute, as well as a prize-winning
novelist (Hotel du Lac). It is puzzling, therefore, that she writes about idle people who do little but fix cups of tea, take walks, and wait for things to happen. Critics have compared her writing to that of Henry James and Jane Austen, but she lacks James' elegance, and Austen's gift for irony and humor. When she untangles herself from her obsession with the weak, worthy woman who subordinates herself to the self-serving worthless one, she will write another fine novel." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)