Anita Brookner, Author THE BAY OF ANGELSAnita Brookn $23.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-375-50582-9

The heroines of Brookner's 20 novels are usually passive, introspective, lonely women, leading quiet lives of muted emotions. Zoe Cunningham is typical of the breed at the beginning of this excellent novel. The daughter of a self-contained widow, Zoe is pleased when her mother agrees to marry elderly, wealthy and generous Simon Gould, who carries his new wife off to his villa in the south of France. When, after a few months, Simon dies suddenly, surprising events unfold. Simon, it seems, was about to run out of money and did not even own the sumptuous villa. Zoe, whose university degree has led to a series of freelance editing jobs in London—and, more important, the freedom that she craves—arrives in Nice to find that her mother has suffered a breakdown and is in a clinic undergoing a sleeping cure. Ensuing events call for more action, assumption of responsibility and displays of emotion than Brookner's heroines generally demonstrate, creating dramatic tension. Beset by worries and difficult decisions, Zoe belatedly understands the limitations of her independent life: "I have the terrible freedom of which others are justifiably afraid." In working through the issues of female liberation and its compromises, and her fears about loneliness and a solitary old age, Zoe arrives at a grateful accommodation to reality and "a condition of acceptance" that finds her in a satisfying relationship. Brookner's economical prose moves gracefully and flawlessly, and her story acquires a mesmerizing intensity rooted in the reality of the events she describes with consummate skill. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/02/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7540-0690-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-7540-5447-4
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Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-375-72760-3
Hardcover - 335 pages - 978-0-7862-3654-1
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-241-97783-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-7114-7
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