Sunday 12 November 2017

Fraud: Christmas Day

This day would end, like all the others, and she would look back in pity at the person who had endured it.

So I come to chapter 8 of Fraud. I've read it before, of course, and I've even written about it here (see A Brooknerian Christmas).

The chapter reads like a collection of Brookner's greatest hits. We have early waking, a flat that's never quite warm enough, striped upholstery, tentative confrontations with neighbours and old acquaintances, flâneurism, obsessive rumination, a cup of tisane, a struggle to eat the smallest of meals, and all the while the marking off of the empty hours as they go by.

I notice one or two new things: the 'demons' circling the extreme discipline of Anna's life; and Nick Marsh, Vickie Halliday and even Mrs Marsh being seen as a 'band of grotesques'. Suddenly we're no longer in 1990s London but in some dark long-ago Europe, in the world of Hieronymus Bosch.

I also see the following chapter, covering Mrs Marsh's less than successful Christmas, as a sort of companion piece. Mrs Marsh longs, as Anna might, for her independence, her 'cherished little habits', her 'little eccentricities', the 'quiet brooding life' of her own thoughts, her own silence.

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