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The Bay Of Angels [Kindle Edition]

Anita Brookner
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Zoë is delighted when her widowed mother maries Simon, a generous older man who owns a villa in Nice. However, the long enchanted visits to France she enjoys come to an abrupt end when Simon suffers a bad fall. Zoë and her mother, finding themselves surounded by well-meaning strangers, must learn how and how not to trust appeaances...

Product Description

Amazon Review

Anita Brookner's 20th novel is another superb, touching and honest meditation on marriage, feminism and filial duty. The Bay of Angels is a finely crafted, affecting story of an intelligent, independent woman, Zoe Cunningham, working through her responsibilities to herself, her mother and her sex. Brookner's opening chapter is a masterclass, moving her heroine from childhood through to her late teens in broad but heightened detail; it showcases all her skills in presenting a character, in the first person, and that character's motivations, self-analysis and hopes. The reader is immediately brought in to Zoe's confidence and feels a close empathy with, and minute understanding of, her world.

Zoe is a singular, although not a lonely child, bookish, observant, temperate but also a lover of fairy tales and the escapes they seem to offer. Her mother echoes these characteristics but, in her, they evidence something a little more diminished. Remarkably, forced out by well-meaning relatives to a social event she would much rather avoid, her mother meets and marries the kind, ebullient Simon. Simon seems to Zoe like a Santa Claus figure, a figure that seems to confirm her trust in fairy tales, who has rescued her mother from long afternoons, and longer evenings, of waiting. She wonders if perhaps now someone will rescue her.

Gentle tragedies, and a dissection of loneliness and the flawed routes out of it offered to women, follow. We become captivated by Zoe's world and by Brookner's rendering of her inner life. Brookner has been at the height of her powers for so long that words like genius and masterpiece flow easily. The astonishing thing is that these words must be invoked to do this level of writing any justice at all. --Mark Thwaite


Surely, by now, no one picks up a new Brookner novel expecting easy uplift or excitement - and her 20th is very, well, Brooknerish. The narrator is a middle-class woman of middling talents. At the start of the novel she expects no great things from life - and at the end of it, after two not very satisfactory relationships with older men, and two deaths in the family, she expects less. And yet on a small canvas and with a predictably limited palette, Brookner is able to portray an altered life in a way which is both convincing and compelling. Set between Nice and London, it concerns the narrator's attempts to come to terms with her widowed mother's marriage to an older and seemingly wealthy man - and with the tragic fallout from his sudden illness. London and Nice are cleverly refracted through the eyes of the narrator; the relationship between the two women is movingly done; their financial vulnerability is resonantly explored, without overstatement. And as is usual with Brookner, there is more real substance and interest in these distinguished 200 pages than in many a longer and more lurid fiction.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 328 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New edition edition (24 Jan. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B05XGS2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #167,625 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Key to Brookner 24 Feb. 2013
By Christopher H TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Anita Brookner's novels focus on a socially marginalised individual, often a woman, and explore the subtle colours that distinguish solitude from loneliness. They are necessarily introspective, and will meditate at length over the pattern of our relationships: close friendships, romantic pairings, marriage, an adult's relations with aged parents. "Love" is a word that is constantly avoided in these explorations of emotion, obligation, commitment, sometimes quiet desperation. What keeps reverberating instead is the word "Freedom" - although as Dr Balbi points out to the main character Zoe, mid way through this novel, we are never free of obligations. The circle of our relationships are circles of emotional obligation.

This late novel strikes me as one Brookner's strongest, and most emotionally tense, works. It ventures into areas that she had kept at bay in her previous novels - death of love ones, holding grief and mourning back, being run over by realising the aloneness of loss. Zoe is a typical Brookner protagonist, a single young woman (working as a piece-meal academic research assistant) whose only close relationship is with her mother. And she must cope with her mother's grave illness, and no supporting friends or family to rely on.

For this reason some readers may find it a very difficult work to enjoy. It is a major work, a mighty piece. But it does pierce the heart.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and involving 30 May 2007
I read the Bay of Angels for a reading group I attend. I really enjoyed it. The novel, which is beautifully written, captures the internal dialogue of Zoe Cunningham, as she moves between London and Nice trying to sort out family affairs. I have read two other titles, but I think this has been my favourite and is one I would go back to to re-read. Anita Brookner manages to portray the loss and loneliness that can be a part of our lives. If you are already a fan, then you probably have an idea what to expect, as similar themes weave through her books. I would heartily recommend it.
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18 of 33 people found the following review helpful
By Kendall
Sorry, I know it's not fashionable to rebel against the mastery of the great Professor Brookner, but I hated this book. Although I was tempted to set it aside, I stuck with it in the hope it would have an interesting outcome, but ultimately it didn't.
I read it on holiday in France, which I thought was fitting given the subject. The precis on the back cover was completely misleading - I guess the publishers had to do something with it because if they'd said "Here's a gloomy tale of human suffering and you'll need a dictionary by your side to make it through" it wouldn't have sold so well.
I'm all for good vocabulary but Brookner takes it too far. For instance, from memory as I don't have the book with me, Zoe doesn't get ready to move house, but she (words to the effect that..) "prepares herself for her installation..." there are many, many other flowery phrases and words I still haven't had time to look up, but all in all it made it too much like hard work.
The last line of the book says "it is not yet time to put the book down". Believe me, it was.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bay of wordiness 8 Feb. 2008
I was so looking forward to this book being that it was set in London and Nice, unfortunately not much description of either. It was also far to 'wordy' ie 15 long words when 1 or 2 would have done - very disappointing.I also found the timeline confusing - when was it set(what era)? ,and how old was Zoes mother when she died? we never did find out.
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5 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not up to hotel du lac 20 July 2005
disappointing. i have read all of ms. brookner's other novels. this was work to get through.
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