BRIEF LIVES by Anita Brookner

by Anna Huett
(Evansville, IN, USA)

The narrator Fay Langdon, an ex-singer, never finds the romantic love promised in the popular songs of the '20s which she once sang on the radio. She lives her life for her father, then her husband, a coldhearted workaholic lawyer who does not understand her yearning for love.

She becomes an improbable friend to the wife of her husband's business partner. After her husband dies, she becomes the mistress of his business partner, who remains dedicated to his incredibly snobbish and self absorbed, ex-actress wife Julia, and then he dies, too.

Now a woman of sixty, driven by guilt, she becomes almost a slave to the woman. When Julia becomes incapacitated and alone, her future is left up to Fay, who is the only person left who will help her.

This was a compelling read for me and I recommend it to everyone. I read it straight through and enjoyed it thoroughly. It was not a happy book but it addresses some things that happen to us us as we grow older.

The only other book I have read by Anita Brookner is Hotel du Lac but I intend to start reading more of her works, which include A Start in Life (1981), and Providence(1982), among others.

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