Sunday 26 November 2017

Providence: the rue Saint-Denis

What a strange, assured, idiosyncratic beginning. No action, practically no dialogue, all retrospect and introspection. We find ourselves in the Parisian world of Kitty Maule's grandparents. There's a hint, too, as ever, of something 'further east'.

Providence (1982) was Anita Brookner's second novel, published a year after her first. Reading it now - now that we have the entire corpus - we recognise many things from later works. But Providence is an urtext.

Take the grandmother's dressmaking workroom in the rue Saint-Denis, with its seamstresses and its 'young and outrageous girls'. What does this recall? And of course, yes, the rue Saint-Denis appears a decade or so later, and similarly, in A Family Romance. See an earlier post here.

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