Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Psychology professor Heckler interviewed 50 attempted suicides for this study of the process of emotional recovery in those who have attempted to kill themselves. (Feb.)
At 65, George Bland has been looking forward to retirement and the commencement of his long-anticipated journey to the Far East with his good friend, Putnam. When Putnam suddenly dies, George begins to feel old and uncertain of the dull, restrained, responsible way he has lived his life. Though he never married, he has maintained a life-long friendship with Louise, his placid first girlfriend, who is now a widow and grandmother. His melancholy days of walks in London's parks and afternoons in museums are interrupted when young, brash Katy Gibbs moves into the flat across the hall. At first exasperated by Katy's rude and greedy nature, George becomes consumed by desire for her and her hedonistic lifestyle. He is temporarily transformed into a passionate man, and although Katy rejects him, he is ultimately able to reach out to Louise for fulfillment. Brookner (Dolly, LJ 11/15/93) has created an absorbing novel with great appeal to anyone who has ever contemplated changing his or her life. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/94.]-Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio
Brookner doesn't disappoint. Her newest novel has an elegantly simple plot unlike her last, the rather involved "Dolly" , but it is suffused with amazingly complex modulations of emotion. Almost everything that takes place in this taut little drama occurs within the conflicted mind of a man named George Bland. George is in his mid-sixties, retired, materially comfortable, and terribly lonely. The only child of rather bitter parents, George was destined for disappointment and has, therefore, assiduously courted it. He failed to marry the only woman he ever loved and formed only one significant friendship with a man named Putnam. The two men had looked forward to enjoying retirement together, but Putnam has died and George is melancholy and resigned. Suddenly a brash and enigmatic young woman appears, literally, on his doorstep and claims to be a close friend of his neighbors across the hall. George suspects that he's being conned, but he lets her in, both repelled and aroused. Katy is obviously a crass and charmless opportunist, but it is her very greed and cruelty that make fastidious and dignified George wish, for the first time in his methodical life, for recklessness and chaos. Few writers can infuse a scene in which two people stand in a hallway without speaking with the suspense and tremendous intensity and delicacy of feeling Brookner achieves. Indeed, she is the poet of the silent skirmishes that rage behind the facade of dignified lives.
From the Publisher
"Devastating...Her tending to language, as we've come to expect, is loving, cutting and exact." The Montreal Gazette
"A narrative of subtleties and nuances, reminiscent of the narratives of the later Henry James." The Toronto Star
"Elegant...Her poetry of forlornness is stronger and stranger than ever. Brightness falls from the air everywhere in this novel." Hermione Lee, The New Yorker