Book Review Undue Influence by Anita Brookner

It is about time for a book review.   I have been reading a lot lately which is nice.  This book, however, really was a bit much for  me, and I think maybe 2 out of 5 stars.  I picked it up because of the jacket, which looked interesting…

I know, never judge a book by the cover!  As I flipped the jacket open, I also noted that the Author, Anita Brookner, had won a Booker Prize for Hotel Du Lac,  so I thought this would be a pretty sure bet for something enjoyable.

Not so much.

In this book, Brookner describes the life of Claire Pitt, a Spinster-type woman  who has just lost her mother (her father, an invalid of sorts had died many years earlier).  Claire works at a bookstore, for 2 other spinsters, and spends time with her best friend, a woman who is also unmarried but involved in a long term affair with a married man.  Enter into the picture an attractive, but vague man who suddenly becomes available mid adventure.  Claire pursues this man in an awkward spinsterish way, with an ending that confirms many of her suspicions about life and men.

The story itself is sort of a bland story without much excitement or action, and the main character spends a great deal of time in her head, making assumptions about people and creating entirely fictional histories for them.  The reader of course, is privy to all of these thoughts, which are extremely detailed psychological masterpieces.  They are wordy and while well written, were a little much for me to read.  I skipped pages here and there to get on with the story.  It was sort of like someone without a self edit button.

It seems in the end, Claire is right where she was in the beginning of the novel.  I personally started to wish that she would actually get on with her life a bit more actively and make things more interesting, but it seems she was destined to have sort of a murky vague life, making the book feel to me murky and vague.

Brookner obviously knows writing, and was able to crete a scene vividly in my imagination.  I just found her very long sentences to be difficult to digest, and possibly the subject matter was distasteful, or just boring.  I am however, a huge fan of Simenon who was able to paint a word picture in 5 words or less, so perhaps I am just not a fan of the style.

While I really found this book to be unagreeable, if the library has Hotel Du Lac, I think I might check it out, just to see if it agrees with me more.  My Advice,  give this one a pass, and go on to something more engrossing.


3 thoughts on “Book Review Undue Influence by Anita Brookner

  1. Emmi says:

    Despite the letdown, that was a nicely written review! Thanks for sparing me the $ and time. I see lots of fiction that mostly involve relationships, and quite honestly I avoid them. I’d rather have something tangible happen, like someone gets lost at sea or creates an experimental slug or something. (LOL, just for example).

    I read a great book recently that had me shouting at the character as well, to get on with being a man. It was Wind Up Bird Chronicles and if you haven’t read it you should give it a go. It is actually an interesting study in a relationship too.

    • Haliku!

      Nope, still running…just finished a 15K race last weekend. It was unpleasant, once I saw the race photos, I realized why, I really have gained some weight! wow! 9 miles tomorrow too… getting there, getting there! WHat are you up to?

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