Synopses & Reviews
"Blanche Vernon is an intelligent, respectable, middle-aged woman whose husband, Bertie, to whom she was devoted, has left her for the more exciting Mousie, his secretary. Blanche fills her empty life with a volunteer job or brooding over paintings at the National Gallery. At night she sits alone in her flat, bathed and dressed, drinking wine, waiting for Bertie to drop by for a chat. Her loneliness causes her to meddle in the life of a young woman with a mute child. Blanche sees the child's muteness as withdrawal from the life thrust upon her. How Blanche extricates herself from this insoluable situation is the story. Once again Brookner anatomizes the tensions between a thoughtful, self-effacing, plain woman, doomed to serve a shallow, self-absorbed, vain woman. As always, Brookner's style is flawless; she is an acute observer of character and setting, but in this book, she fails to dramatize; instead of scenes, she gives endless descriptive narrative and analysis. Awarded the Booker prize for her excellent Hotel du Lac, Brookner has fallen short with the static, improbable plot and airless atmosphere of this novel." Reviewed by Don Fry, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
About the Author
After twenty years of marriage Blanche Vernon is alone; abandoned by her husband Bertie for a childishly demanding computer expert named Mousie. While Blanche finds this turn of events baffling, she feels that Bertie must have left her because of her overly sensible demeanor. Yet many of their mutual friends disagree. In fact, Blanche has come to be regarded as undeniably eccentric--making elliptical remarks that no one knows how to read, and chatting at great length about characters in fiction. She resolutely fills her unwanted hours with activities, maintaining her excellent appearance, drinking increasingly more wine, and, in an attempt to turn her energy to good works, becoming severely enmeshed in the life of a disordered young family.