When cautious Emma Roberts goes to France to carry out research into 17th-century garden design, she finds a reliable diversion from her studies in her unlikely new friend Francoise Desnoyers, in whose beautiful house she is welcomed as a guest. She is not too dazzled to ignore the tensions that exist between Francoise and her formidable mother, or between Mme. Desnoyers and her other guests.
London recedes into the background as life in France becomes more significant in every respect. It is not until the horrifying episode that puts an end to this fascination that Emma is reconciled to her duller but safer life at home and to the compromises that she comes to accept.
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 24th, Strangers, in 2009. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner has published a number of volumes of art criticism.
"Enthralling...so beautifully observed...as captivating as any thriller.” (Marie Claire)
“Spare and devastating, powerful. Brookner is an unflinching novelist who writes beautifully and fearlessly.” (Independent) “Elegiac...its magnificent final sentence is among the most moving of Brooknerian conclusions.” (New Statesman)
“Clever and elegant.” (Sunday Times)
“Brookner is brilliant...readers will not be disappointed. Her women are very real, more recognizable and more human than any obviously loveable character could hope to be.” (Sunday Herald)
“So well done - so carefully is the novel wrought - that reading it offers deep and enduring pleasure.” (Scotsman)
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