Synopses & Reviews
In this masterly new novel, the Booker Prize–winning author of Hotel du Lac and Making Things Better gives us an exquisite story about the changes in relationships over time, and how our life choices can both reflect the past and direct the future. Hailed as “one of the finest novelists of her generation” (The New York Times), Anita Brookner here weaves an impeccably crafted tale of two women, friends from youth, and the decisions and men that define their destinies.
Elizabeth and Betsy knew each other as schoolchildren. When they meet again later in life, one is safely married, the other most unsafely partnered. Together, they discover that despite their very disparate lives, they still have in common the capacity for making dangerous choices. Ultimately, their inclination to implement these decisions reveals the fate that was spelled out in their characters from the start.
"To read Brookner is to be reminded of fiction's potential to stun, with full, complex characters in a richly imagined world....[An] elegant, thought-provoking novel." Publishers Weekly
"Shrewd and idiosyncratic...thanks to Brookner's mordant wit, gorgeous language, and acute understanding of the axis between pride and shame, loneliness and misanthropy, integrity and cruelty." Booklist
"Brookner's spiritual and syntactic masters are Jane Austen and Henry James, and The Rules of Engagement contains, in places, passages worthy of these august forebears." Catherine Lockerbie, The New York Times Book Review
"[I]n The Rules of Engagement
Brookner knows her characters' plights so well that the novel seems to lack any sensation of urgency. The prose is confident, at times elegant, but too often it feels rigged, and exasperatingly fatalistic....[O]ne wishes for a novel that were more attentive to change and alterations, to tiny inconsequential happenings and accidents. Instead, The Rules of Engagement
knows too well where it is going to stop along the way. It does not live all it can." Deborah Friedell, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review