February 17, 2005


Category: Literature :: Permalink


Last week, I finished Anita Brookner’s Visitors. From a glance at some reviews of Brookner’s work, I suspect she may get tired of being compared to Henry James. I’ve read only one story by James and it was a while ago, so I can’t say if the comparisons are accurate. If they are, then perhaps it’s time for me to start reading James.

Visitors is by no means fast-paced. It isn’t full of adventure. In some ways, it’s simply the story of a retiring elderly lady whose relatives are throwing a wedding for a granddaughter and ask her to take in one of the one-of-town groomsmen for a couple of weeks before the wedding.

If this were Ruth Rendell, that premise would have been developed in such a way that you would be on the edge of your seat, waiting for something terrible to happen, as it so often does in Rendell’s novels.

But this is Anita Brookner — which isn’t to say that there is no suspense here. There is, but it is suspense of a different sort. Most of the action (to put it that way) takes place in the mind and heart of the main character, Mrs. May, who is forced to cope with what she perceives as a huge intrusion into her home, her routines, her life.

The story moves at Mrs. May’s own pace, slow as that is, and Brookner forces us, as readers, to slow down to that pace, to get to know Mrs. May from the inside. At the same time, she keeps us turning the pages, wondering what is going to happen next, before the whole thing reaches a satisfying conclusion.

Moriah and I both enjoyed this novel. I’m sure we’ll be reading more of Brookner’s novels. Anyone else read her?

Posted by John Barach @ 6:49 pm | Discuss (0)

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