Wednesday 15 November 2017

Fraud: Midlands Idyll

So he delivered the papers before he went to school, getting up at five in the frozen winter mornings, before it was light, and going home again to the fuggy warmth of the shop, with its cloying gas heater, and warming himself in the back room while his mother cooked him a huge fried breakfast.

Chapter 11 of Fraud begins with a depiction of Dr Halliday's Leicester youth. I'm not sure whether the ugly word 'Londoncentric' existed in 1992, but Fraud, like much of Brookner, is definitely it. The reader is always on the alert when Brookner strays into the English provinces. The tone of this passage is not quite condescending, but certainly rather indulgent, soft-focus. It works to an extent, but probably only insofar as it's a portrayal not so much of a place as of a time: the postwar period, that fabled era of kindness and solidarity Brookner celebrates most powerfully in Visitors, in Mrs May's dream of a field of folk.

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