Friday 10 November 2017

Fraud: No Voice

She was aware that she was uncomfortable to be with, had little to offer but her maidenly accomplishments and her letter-writing and her too careful clothes. [...] Within that carapace she was an adult woman, but one who had no voice because of her lifelong concealment, which now no one would question.
Fraud, ch. 6

Let me compare Fraud's Anna Durrant with Look at Me's Frances Hinton of nine years before. Frances too, in a famous passage, has 'no voice at the world's tribunals' (Look at Me, ch. 6), but arguably her 'accomplishments' are more substantial than Anna's: she works, she enjoys success in her writing. Whereas Anna's life is much more isolated and reduced.

This is a pattern in Brookner. Character types recur, but supports are stripped away. When reading Fraud for the first time the reader may wonder whether Anna will survive. She has disappeared. Her disappearance has come to the attention of the police. She may be dead, by whatever means. (She has, for example, her sleeping pills, though later in the novel she explicitly rejects suicide.) The blurb on my paperback copy of the novel shuts down any such possibility, but I remember the summary on the original hardback being more reticent. Fraud felt then, as first-time Brookners often feel, genuinely dangerous, a sense that to a large extent piquantly lingers during a reread.

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