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Latecomers (Penguin Decades) [Paperback]

Anita Brookner , Helen Dunmore
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2010 Penguin Decades

Latecomers is the eighth novel by Anita Brookner, the Booker Prize winning author of Hotel du Lac. This edition includes an introduction by Helen Dunmore.

Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain. When they were published, some were bestsellers, some were considered scandalous, and others were simply misunderstood. All represent their time and helped define their generation, while today each is considered a landmark work of storytelling.

Anita Brookner's Latecomers was published in 1988 and is one of her most poignant novels. It tells the story of two men, the charming Hartmann and the troubled Fibich, best friends ever since they came to England as German refugees, and how they respond to their shared history in different ways. Latecomers is a moving, compassionate portrayal of how we confront the past and live with the present, from a writer of profound psychological depth.

'She has never written a better novel . . . unbearably moving' Ruth Rendell

'Her technique as a novelist is so sure and so quietly commanding' Hilary Mantel, Guardian

Anita Brookner was born in south London in 1928, the daughter of a Polish immigrant family. She trained as an art historian, and worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art until her retirement in 1988. She published her first novel, A Start in Life, in 1981 and her twenty-fourth, Strangers, in 2009. Hotel du Lac won the 1984 Booker Prize. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner has published a number of volumes of art criticism.

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Latecomers (Penguin Decades) + Strangers
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141048298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141048291
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Her technique as a novelist is so sure and so quietly commanding (Hilary Mantel Guardian)

Anita Brookner's best novel so far (Victoria Glendinning)

She has never written a better novel . . . unbearably moving (Ruth Rendell)

It is hard to imagine her taut spare prose going out of fashion (The Times)

From the Back Cover

Sent to London as refugees during the second world war, Thomas Hartmann and Thomas Fibich become lifelong friends and eventually business partners. Over the years, Hartmann has settled for a life of pleasure, seldom disturbed by his difficult past; Fibich endures a life of gloom, his mind never straying from the last sight he had of his mother, fainting on a railway platform. But both are troubled by the same profound and unfocused longing, and as they approach old age, the need to exorcise and understand the ghosts of their past.

“She has never written a better novel. There are only inadequate words (except her own) in which to convey how searchingly gentle it is, how almost unbearably moving.”
RUTH RENDELL, 'Observer'

“The best novel Anita Brookner has written since the Booker Prize-winning 'Hotel du Lac'. It marks an advance into new territory, while preserving all her old sharp intelligence and shrewdness.”
SUSAN HILL, 'Good Housekeeping'

“A book of such charm, such depth, such poignant detail and compassionate understanding that, reading it, you may find tears mingling with laughter.”
'Daily Mail'

“Anita Brookner has proved herself to be so fine a novelist that she deserves to be judged in a class of her own.”
'Daily Telegraph'

“All the satisfactions to be found in her best work are here.”
'Sunday Times'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle and moving novel 1 Feb 2007
Format:Audio Cassette
Thomas Fibich and Thomas Hartman, now in their late middle age, have been friends since their early childhood when they came to England from Germany. They successfully run a photocopying business although their respective characters are quite different. Hartman is the more dynamic, decisive and ebullient man. Fibich is an abstracted and uncommunicative man but trustworthy and honourable at work. The story tells about Fibich's and Hartman's past, their marriage respectively to Christine and Yvette, the birth and the character of their children, their achievements, failures and hopes now that they are growing old.

A novel of much charm, depth and compassionate understanding. The characters are moving and their treatment imaginative and full of insight. The novel is read by Andrew Sachs for Chivers Audiobooks. His reading is very pleasant to listen to.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant novel of time passing and memories lost 9 July 2010
Hartmann and Fibich are the Latecomers of this novel's title; both men, as children had been sent from Germany shortly before WW2 on the Kindertransport, a refugee scheme which brought almost 10,000 children, mostly of Jewish families, to safety in England from Nazi Germany and occupied countries such as Austria.
The two friends stay together in England, starting a successful greeting card business, marrying and setting up homes in the same comfortable London apartment block.
Anita Brookner traces the lives of Hartmann and Fibich in elegant prose, with an understated warmth and sympathy. The differing personalities of the two men are reflected in their contrasted attitudes to their past lives in Germany; neither has any living relation from Germany, so they can only rely for a sense of their lost family past on dim childhood memories. The family and working lives that they have built up in England are at the centre of both their lives, but whilst the extroverted and sensual Hartman wants to enjoy his life and largely forget the past, the more anxious Fibich tries to awaken memories of his childhood in Berlin and traumatic separation from his parents.
Latecomers focuses very much on the mature lives of Hartmann and Fibich in London, their wives Yvette and Christine, and children Marianne and Toto. The last few chapters have a particular poignancy as the two friends face up to retirement and old age, and Fibich writes what he recalls of his childhood in a heartfelt letter to his son.
Penguin Books have recently reissued Latecomers as part of their Penguin Decades series, with an introduction by Helen Dunmore and new cover art by John Squire.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of her best 15 Jan 2011
By Felis
A masterpiece; a departure from her usual topics and protagonists, possibly her best novel although not a typical representation of her work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and charming 8 July 2014
By Su Den
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Enjoyable bed time reading, believable story
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