|The rather wonderful cover of the latest edition
of A Private View illustrates, perhaps, the beginning
of one of Bland's illicit foreign adventures.
'It occurred to me that one could spend an entire holiday in Hyde Park,' says Claire later in Undue Influence (ch. 18). That she can have such a thought, such lowered expectations, indicates her growing debility, her descent into vagrancy. Claire is one of Brookner's most marginalised protagonists, and Undue Influence one of her rawest novels. And it is all the more unsettling because of the lightness of the opening few chapters. After a certain point the novel gets bleaker and bleaker with every passing line.