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“If Henry James were around, the only writer he’d be reading with complete approval would be Anita Brookner.”—New York Times Book Review
Despite growing up with a widowed and reclusive mother, young Zoë Cunningham retains an unshakable faith in storybook happy endings. When her mother, Anne, finally decides to remarry, Zoë is thrilled with her prospective stepfather, Simon Gould, who is not only wealthy, but also kind and generous. Simon’s affection for his new family allows Zoë to pursue what she thinks is an independent life: her own apartment in a fashionable part of London, a university education, casual affairs, and carefree holidays at Simon’s villa in Nice. When a series of unexpected calamities intervene, Zoë learns that the idyllic freedom she enjoys has come at a steep price. To preserve both her mother’s and her own sense of wellbeing, Zoë must discern the real motives of the strangers on whom she now depends, including the silent and mysterious man whose nocturnal movements have attracted her attention.
“Ms. Brookner’s preternatural gift for articulating the seldom-spoken emotions of ordinary life reminds us that one hallmark of great literature is its ability to reveal to us—in sharper focus, greater depth, and a finer tone—things we already know, or think we know.”—The Wall Street Journal
“One of her very best. . . . A pure delight to read.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“An unusually beautiful and heartbreaking book.” –Detroit Free Press
“Brookner’s wit glows like a kind of background radiation that charges everything here. . . . She has never been more clearsighted, more compellingly brilliant.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“A wise story about competing impulses and the trade-offs we make to accommodate them.” –The Atlanta Journal-Constitution