Saturday 2 December 2017

Providence: At Madame Eva's

In chapter 6 of Brookner's Providence we find ourselves in uncertain and unfamiliar territory. Kitty, persuaded by her neighbour Caroline, visits a clairvoyant. Kitty is appropriately sceptical - '[s]he was intellectually, as well as morally, uneasy' - but she goes through the experience all the same. The visit is fully described and dramatised; there's even a crystal ball. And Madame Eva's vouchsafements? They're stunningly close to the truth.

What are we to make of all this? I've really no idea. It puzzles me. It's a strange intrusion into the normal rationality of the Brookner world. It seems obvious to me that Caroline, before the visit, fed Madame Eva with details of Kitty's life. But Brookner doesn't acknowledge such a possibility, and the episode is allowed to pass away. Why?

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