Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A standout even among the author's critically acclaimed oeuvre, this impeccably crafted novel examines the life of one of her typically out-of-the-mainstream characters. The son of a timorous widow, the eponymous protagonist is naive and immature, but his romantic nature ``craves the company of women'' as surrogate nurturers. After his mother dies, Lewis takes a humble library job and searches for a wife. He settles on Tissy Harper, a library assistant as virginal as himself; she has the added emotional handicap of agoraphobia, and is tied to her formidable mother. Instead of fulfilling his idealistic longings, marriage robs Lewis of his dreams. Tissy becomes even more withdrawn and enigmatic, and when she leaves him on suspicion of his infidelity with his best friend's sister, Lewis is bereft not only of wifely company but of his child, born soon after the separation. Brookner's hallmark virtues are exhibited here: her intelligence and lively wit, the stunning clarity of her observations and the subtle but rich nuances of her prose. Timely issues inform the irony, as Tissy finds justification for her grievances in the feminist movement and Lewis's liberating metamorphosis occurs just as he becomes superannuated by computer technology. In her exploration of the areas of incomprehension and misunderstanding between mens' and women's expectations of life--and of each other--Brookner has produced an immensely enjoyable novel. (Mar.)
Lewis Percy says of himself ``I don't actually teach . . . I just work in the library,'' and ``I'm not blind . . . although . . . incredibly stupid.'' He is a mild-mannered Londoner whose mother has died and whose marriage is falling apart. Things begin to look really bleak when the library decides to automate, but a deus ex machina saves him by offering a teaching job in Massachusetts. He is then inspired to divorce his wife and seek out the woman he loves. Booker Prize-winner Brookner writes well, but her characters are not sufficient vehicles for her psychological speculations, and her story is tedious and predictable.-- Molly McCluer, Alameda Cty. Law Lib., Oakland, Cal.
May be [Brookner's] most finely wrought novel…A brilliant portrait gallery.
Washington Post Book World
From the Publisher
"Each new Brookner novel...guarantees the pleasures of a mature intelligence, felicitous language, quirky humor, intensely believable characters, bitter-sweet karma and shapely narrative....A brilliantly executed novel."
The New York Times Book Review"Anita Brookner never ceases to surprise. In this sly and delectable fiction...an artist has extended her range."-Boston Globe
"Confirms Anita Brookner's reputation as a novelist....There is a solemn felicity, a classical sense of fairness inherent in Lewis Percy. This, with the author's sane humor, told in her elegant, lucid prose, combines to make something truly remarkable."
San Francisco Chronicle