Sunday 19 February 2017


I fight shy of rankings, league tables and the like, but from time to time I'm asked for recommendations. In purely chronological order, here are my five. (Hotel du Lac, for reasons explored in a post of yesterday, is excluded from consideration (not that it would necessarily have made the list).)

Look at Me (1983)
Not by any means a perfect Brookner, but an essential one. Here we get our first full view of the battle between Brookner's insiders and outsiders. Just whose side is she on?

Family and Friends (1985)
Brookner's most stylish novel, published following the euphoria of the Booker win. Confident, magisterial, this is Brookner placing herself firmly beyond the parochial concerns of the traditional English novel.

A Private View (1994)
The story of ageing George Bland's reckless passion for an itinerant young woman. A dense, intense portrait of sexual obsession.

Visitors (1997)
Essentially the same story as A Private View, but here the passion is sublimated. Wonderful scenes of summer and the end of summer. A close, Jamesian study.

The Next Big Thing / Making Things Better (2002)
In late Brookner the passion is as strong as it always was, but now there's an element of real danger. Now no one gets out alive. A precise, unflinching novel with a European dimension.

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