20 March 2011
IABD: Anita Brookner's 24 novels (so far)
Savidge Reads and My Porch would be hosting International Anita Brookner Day (IABD) blogger Verity at The B Files asked me if I would supply a reading list and/or recommendations. I can certainly give you a reading list but I hesitate to give recommendations. One of the reasons is because--and I know this may bother some when I say it--her novels are so similar in theme and tone that it is a little hard for me to keep them straight. Perhaps closer readers with better recall can more easily differentiate one from the other, but I really can't. I know that Hotel du Lac, besides being a Booker winner is the one that takes place at a hotel in Switzerland. But beyond that I am hard pressed to give too many details for the rest of Brookner's novels.
For those of you who have yet to read Brookner you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. If all of them are similar why bother right? You should bother because each of her novels, regardless of plot, is a perfectly wrought gem of introspective genius. And once you discover that you love one of them, you have 23 others still to read.
Okay, so they are introspective, but what else? Most are set in London. Many include trips to (or plans to go to) the continent, (usually France or French speaking Switzerland). The protagonists often have an academic bent. I think without exception all are upper middle class, usually with a financial legacy that makes employment unnecessary. Almost all are female but Brookner has written a few male leading characters. You might assume that her heroines tend to be spinsters but they just as likely, or perhaps even more likely to be widows. And for some reason I imagine them all wearing lots of beige and cantaloupe-y colors. Maybe because all of the 1980s US first editions from Pantheon are in beigy, mauvy tones.
I realize as I wrote that last paragraph that although the thoughts are mine, I may be subconsciously cribbing the general outline from Peta Mayer's fabulous blog dedicated to all things Anita. Not only will I be referring to Peta's blog from time to time over the coming months, but she has agreed to write something about AB especially for My Porch.
So, without further ado, here are Anita Brookner's 24 novels. I have included year published. Since I am not giving any recommendations, I thought I would include how each title scored in my ranking system, but when I went to look at my list all but one ranked a 9 (Loved ). Only (and perhaps oddly) Hotel du Lac got less than a 9. It got an 8 (Almost loved). No single Brookner title achieves a perfect 10 (All time favorite) but her fiction as a whole does indeed garner a 10 on the My Porch scale.
1981 A Start in Life (US title: The Debut)
1983 Look at Me
1984 Hotel du Lac (Booker Winner)
1985 Family and Friends
1986 A Misalliance
1987 A Friend from England
1989 Lewis Percy
1990 Brief Lives
1991 A Closed Eye (The ONLY one I haven't read.)
1993 A Family Romance (US title: Dolly)
1994 A Private View
1995 Incidents in the Rue Laugier
1996 Altered States
1998 Falling Slowly
1999 Undue Influence
2001 The Bay of Angels
2002 The Next Big Thing (US title: Making Things Better)
2003 The Rules of Engagement
2005 Leaving Home
Some of you have already told me which Brookner novel(s) you have in your TBR pile and plan to read for IABD. For those of you who don't have one at hand, in my experience they are pretty easy to find in secondhand shops and in public libraries. You can also find newer hardcover remainders fairly often as well. So, no excuses.