Saturday 23 September 2017

Undue Influence: Echoes

One of the fun things about reading a writer as prolific as Anita Brookner is seeing how she reuses material. And not just themes, though this is the obvious place to start. Early in Undue Influence, for example, when Claire Pitt emerges from the Gibsons', she gets the authentic Brooknerian feeling of escape: 'The dear street!' How many others have exclaimed over such a release?

More concretely we get references to Blakeney in Norfolk. We're always alert when Brookner's characters venture from London into the English provinces, where danger often lurks. Blakeney features also in Brookner's 1992 novel Fraud, and there's another intriguing detail found in both books. In Fraud Dr Halliday (very similar to Martin Gibson in Undue Influence) must endure trips in his odious father-in-law's boat, and in Undue Influence Martin Gibson's stepfather takes him on a boat trip, which he finds an emetic experience (and we know from A Friend from England that water is rarely to be trusted). The Fraud father-in-law is also called Gibson.

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