There's a growing opacity in the writing. Claire, that 'merry adventurer' (ch. 8), brings back from her mysterious holidays postcards and photos for her mother: rood screens, tympanums, choirstalls, misericords, clerestories, elevations: Brookner takes a perverse pleasure in listing such arcane details. 'As if these had had exclusive claims on my attention,' jauntily adds Claire. But Brookner soon pulls away the rug:
I faltered when I found that [my mother] had compiled several albums of the postcards, which she kept in her bedroom. She was so innocent herself that I am sure she managed to think me innocent as well. (Ch. 3)For in Undue Influence we're getting towards late dark comfortless Brookner, the bleakness of The Bay of Angels, the harsh clarity of The Rules of Engagement, the empty, barely mediated despair of Strangers. Uplifting masterpieces, every one.