I have come to believe that there can be no adequate preparation for the sadness that comes at the end, the sheer regret that one's life is finished, that one's failures remain indelible and one's successes illusory.
The Rules of Engagement, ch. 5
These lines were quoted on the flyleaf of the UK first edition. They come amid what amounts to a Brooknerian manifesto of belief, taking in such familiar themes as the gods of antiquity; the notion of living a posthumous life; the pointlessness of living a virtuous life; the need to take chances and defy safety. We even get a line about playing Russian roulette with one's life, which echoes a practically identical comment in Brookner's 2002 Independent interview:
I think you should play Russian roulette with your life, frankly [...] because there's so little time.