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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wasted Lives of Women
There are similar elements in this novel to Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin. Not the plot, not at all, for Atwood's is much more compelling, but in the characterisation.
In both novels, the central character is a woman of the 1930s generation, grown old and reflecting on her life, but Brookner focusses entirely on the minutiae of daily life to show the wasted...
Published on 1 Feb. 2003 by Rosemary L Hill

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brief Review
My wife read it for a book club and she seemed to like it although it did become a bit complicated at times
Published 16 months ago by p


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wasted Lives of Women, 1 Feb. 2003
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Rosemary L Hill (Cheltenham East, Vic Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brief Lives (Paperback)
There are similar elements in this novel to Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin. Not the plot, not at all, for Atwood's is much more compelling, but in the characterisation.
In both novels, the central character is a woman of the 1930s generation, grown old and reflecting on her life, but Brookner focusses entirely on the minutiae of daily life to show the wasted lives of women. Fay Langdon is a lower middle-class woman of very little ambition and no initiative whatsoever. Her horizons are bounded entirely by having a man in her life, to define her. She doesn't even like them very much, and they all seem to be a disappointment in one way or another. Her husband may have been fleecing his firm, and when she has an affair with her friend's husband, he keeps telling her about his affection for his wife. Her last attempt is with Dr Carter, an utterly selfish man who fancies himself as an eligible male and uses women for companionship and sex, as long as they make no demands. None of these men offer any emotional support or genuine affection.
And then there's Julie, a truly horrible woman, who exerts a bizarre magnetism. She makes a career of ordering her hapless friends about, insulting them as intellectual and social inferiors, while manipulating them into meeting her needs with a convincing display of helplessness about everyday things.
All this is very interesting, and beautifully written with wry insight from Fay, the narrator, but I tired of it in the last few pages and felt like giving Fay a good *shake*! She was just like Iris in The Blind Assassin, letting her life go to waste out of sheer inertia and an over-dependence on men.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on women ageing I know, 22 May 2011
This review is from: Brief Lives (Paperback)
It's said that one grows into Brookner as one matures... Understanding the subtleties of her writing is key. This is one of the best books - possibly the best book - I have ever read on women growing older, the nature of friendships, loneliness and the 'problem of men'. If you want escapist fiction, read someone else. This is - and I speak from experience - just how it is: messy, painful, confusing, but at the same time a journey of acceptance to what is and the gradual accumulation of wisdom. I find Brookner to be immensely comforting for 'telling it how it is', no stone left unturned. Unlike the previous reviewer, I didn't feel I wanted to shake Fay; I empathised with her position and found her quietly courageous in how she coped with it. Fabulous, fabulous book.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brief Review, 17 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Brief Lives (Paperback)
My wife read it for a book club and she seemed to like it although it did become a bit complicated at times
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Brief Lives
Brief Lives by Anita Brookner (Paperback - 25 July 1991)
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