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Strangers

Strangers

Hardback

By (author) Anita Brookner

List price $26.62

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Paperback $9.73
  • Publisher: Fig Tree
  • Format: Hardback | 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 144mm x 222mm x 23mm | 346g
  • Publication date: 5 March 2009
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1905490429
  • ISBN 13: 9781905490424
  • Sales rank: 417,750

Product description

Paul Sturgis is a retired banker manager who lives alone in a dark little flat. He walks alone and dines alone, seeking out and taking pleasure in small exchanges with strangers: the cheerful Australian girl who cuts his hair, the lady at the dry cleaners. His only relative, and only acquaintance, is a widowed cousin by marriage - herself a virtual stranger - to whom he pays ritualistic visits on a Sunday afternoon. Trying to make sense of his current solitary state, and fearing that his destiny may be to die among strangers, Sturgis trawls through memories of his failed relationships and finds himself longing for companionship, or at the very least a conversation. But then a chance encounter with a stranger - a recently divorced and demanding younger woman - shakes up his routine and when an old girlfriend appears on the scene, Sturgis is forced to make a decision about how (and with whom) he wants to spend the rest of his days!

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Author information

Anita Brookner was born in London in 1928 and, apart from several years in Paris, has lived there ever since. She trained as an art historian and taught at the Courtauld Institute of Art until 1988. Strangers is her twenty-fourth novel.

Editorial reviews

Brookner (Leaving Home, 2006, etc.) tells the story of bookish retiree Paul Sturgis.Most of the novel takes place within Paul's mind, which is also where most of Paul's life takes place. Since leaving his job and the comfort of routine, Paul finds himself with only one ritual - occasional visits with Helena, the widow of his cousin and thus a distant relative, but apparently his only living one. Neither of them seems to enjoy the visits much, though they provide human connection in a world otherwise filled with strangers. Two chance encounters promise to enliven Paul's existence, or threaten to complicate it. On a trip to Venice to avoid Helena's annual Christmas invitation, he meets Vicky Gardner, a vivacious woman some 20 years younger. "Women, after pursuit on his part, had found him disappointing in a way that he had never fully understood," muses Paul, yet Vicky doesn't. Or maybe he doesn't give her the chance. Or maybe she's so engulfed by the complications of her life - her recent divorce, her rootlessness bordering on homelessness - that she simply doesn't realize how disappointing a relationship with Paul might be. They continue to meet back home in London, complicating Paul's life in a way that he occasionally finds stimulating but more often uncomfortable. Another chance encounter offers another complication, when he runs into Sarah, one of the women who had found him disappointing, and still does. Yet Sarah was one of only two girlfriends he had ever been serious about. He feels torn between his past with Sarah and whatever future he might have with Vicky, while recognizing that "a life lived purely in the mind, as he seemed to have lived his own, would seem not only without interest but bizarre, unnatural." Free to do nothing, a retiree bores himself and others, including the reader. (Kirkus Reviews)