|The UK first edition's
magnificent cover image
One approaches the autumn with a Brooknerian mix of resignation and relief. What to read, when the long dark evenings come? After a little mental tussle I decided to give Undue Influence a try. It occupies an interesting position in the Brookner oeuvre. It's the last of the 1990s novels, but it harks back to the first three Brookners (A Start in Life, Providence, Look at Me) from the early Eighties. At the time it seemed like either an end or a new beginning. And the following year, 2000, was the first time Anita Brookner broke the annual publication pattern she'd established through the Eighties and Nineties. You must remember that from 1990 I read Brookner as she was published. When I first read Undue Influence, and when there was no new novel a year later, it really did seem possible she might have given up fiction, as she had more than once threatened to do.