Falling Slowly: A Novel

Anita Brookner

ISBN 10: 0375501894 / ISBN 13: 9780375501890
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[ No Hassle 30 Day Returns ][ Ships Daily ] [ Underlining/Highlighting: NONE ] [ Writing: NONE ] [ Edition: first ] Former library book Publisher: Random House Pub Date: 12/22/1998 Binding: Hardcover Pages: 227 first edition. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: The brilliant Anita Brookner, praised by The New York Times as "one of the finest novelists of her generation," now gives us a stunning story of two sisters and the strange patterns of identity and love.
        The Sharpe sisters have lived a careful and contemplative existence. Miriam is a translator of French texts and Beatrice a moderately successful pianist. Their lives of quiet sophistication are suddenly interrupted by several complicated men: Max, Beatrice's agent; Simon, a handsome and charming married man; and Tom Rivers, a journalist who befriends Miriam. These men create disorder in the Sharpe sisters' controlled lives as Miriam, the unromantic stoic of the two, begins an affair and Beatrice's career undergoes an unexpected change.
        The exquisite writing, affecting characters, and astonishing psychological perceptions for which Anita Brookner is famous are evident on every page of this beautiful novel by a modern master.

Review: Anita Brookner has no illusions about desire--or illusion--yet she is well aware of their unrelenting power. In her 18th novel, Falling Slowly, two sisters lead lives of quiet but no less painful panic. Beatrice Sharpe, a classical accompanist who is at the end of her career and health, has long dreamed of the protection of men. Alas, what her older sister, Miriam, thinks of as a "disastrous innocence" seems to have imprisoned and defeated her. Miriam, on the other hand, who is in her late 40s and divorced, prides herself on her strategies for getting through the long London days. Her work as a translator, though not ultimately fulfilling, keeps her occupied and marginally undefeated.

Both had been taught by their parents to expect little and complain less, yet they are surrounded by a world of interconnection and privilege that is ever out of reach. The narrative offers Miriam first the possibility of passion (illicit and guilt-making) and then a chance for commitment. Since we are in Brooknerland, you can guess how this will turn out. Beatrice is considerably less fortunate. At one point, the two discuss a Colette tale. The more knowing Miriam decides that the author comes out of it better than her characters, because she's the onlooker. Beatrice, surprisingly, has the last word: "There must be some consolation for being an onlooker," she realizes. "The role is not always an enviable one." Out of such seemingly minor moments, Brookner creates a tragedy, her exquisite, controlled sentences sculpting broken lives in which control itself is the culprit. --Kerry Fried

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Title: Falling Slowly: A Novel
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