Tag Archives: Strangers

Review: Strangers


By Anita Brookner
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307472601, July 2010, 256pp.)

The Short of It:

Amusing, sharp and unusually accommodating… these characters give meaning to the term, “growing old gracefully.”

The Rest of It:

Paul Sturgis is a 70-something bachelor living in a quiet, London flat. Never married, and having only one living relative, a distant cousin named Helena, Paul finds himself wandering about looking for something but he’s not sure what. To avoid the dreaded Christmas invitation from Helena, he decides to take holiday in Venice.

In Venice, he meets Vicky Gardner. Vicky is an interesting sort. She is pretty,  recently divorced and essentially homeless since she has no permanent place to call home. She flits from place to place, seemingly happy in her travels. Paul, unusually reserved gives his number to Vicky and then immediately regrets it. How lonely does one have to be to finally realize that at the age of 72, being with someone might be better than being alone?

This was my first Brookner and I enjoyed it immensely. These characters are proper, polite and exceedingly friendly, but utterly lonely. They are “strangers” in that they have no idea how to co-exist with one another. Innocent conversations turn into something else and then before you know it, in walks awkwardness. It’s all incredibly entertaining but in a quiet, understated way.

I understand that Strangers is Brookner’s 23rd novel. I can’t believe it took me this long to read one of her books but now I want to read them all. It’s not as if there was a lot going on in this one, or that it was even a page-turner, but it’s the type of writing that I enjoy. When I writer can take every day things and make them interesting, then he/she has my attention.

Brookner fans, which of her books shall I read next?

Source: Borrowed

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Friday Finds: Strangers

Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading. Here’s my one find:

Strangers by Anita Brookner

Here’s the blurb from Barnes and Noble:

Paul Sturgis is resigned to his bachelorhood and the quietude of his London flat. He occasionally pays obliging visits to his nearest living relative, Helena, his cousin’s widow and a doyenne of decorum who, like Paul, bears a tacit loneliness.To avoid the impolite complications of turning down Helena’s Christmas invitation, Paul sets off for a holiday in Venice, where he meets Mrs. Vicky Gardner. Younger than Paul by several decades, the intriguing and lovely woman is in the midst of a divorce and at a crossroads in her life. Upon his return to England, a former girlfriend, Sarah, reenters Paul’s life. These two women reroute Paul’s introspections and spark a transformation within him.

Paul’s steady and preferred isolation now conflicts with the stark realization of his aloneness and his need for companionship in even the smallest degree. This awareness brings with it a torrent of feelings–reassessing his Venetian journey, desiring change, and fearing death. Ultimately, his discoveries about himself will lead Paul to make a shocking decision about his life.

I had never heard of Anita Brookner before but she also wrote Hotel Du Lac which won her the Booker Prize and I have heard of that book but unfortnately have not read it myself.

By the way, isn’t the cover great on this one?

What did you find this week?