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Strangers
Cover of Strangers
Strangers
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Paul Sturgis is a retired bank 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 His only relative, and only acquaintance, is a widowed cousin by marriage, to whom he pays ritualistic visits on a Sunday afternoon 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
Paul Sturgis is a retired bank 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 His only relative, and only acquaintance, is a widowed cousin by marriage, to whom he pays ritualistic visits on a Sunday afternoon 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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  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 13, 2009
    Brookner's 24th book is an often monotonous meditation on an elderly man's solitary existence. Much of the first several chapters are dedicated to 72-year-old Paul Sturgis's stuffy reflections on his attitudes toward life and loneliness. The narrative shows some promise when Sturgis meets recently divorced Vicky Gardner on a trip to Venice, but their ensuing relationship—in Venice and later, when they both return to London—is mired in a painfully polite restraint. As if in a parody of English manners, Vicky and Sturgis labor over countless afternoon teas without forming anything resembling human contact. Vicky often approaches moments of vulnerable honesty, only to act appalled if he shows any interest in these rare glimpses of humanity. Sturgis's interactions with his ex-lover Sarah, meanwhile, are slightly more candid, but these merely highlight Sturgis's painfully apparent dull formality. (They also give him more material to pontificate over.) While the novel happens in the current day, the occasional mobile phone feels as out of place as it would in, say, one of the Henry James novels that could be the inspiration for this tedious exercise in drawing-room politesse.

  • AudioFile Magazine Stephen Thorne's ascetic approach and ability to animate Brookner's introspective character study adds interest to an otherwise static account of a London pensioner whose social life consists of discussing the weather with strangers and visiting his cousin's widow. There is little dialogue, but Thorne makes the most of his mannered portrayals of the characters: Paul Sturgis, to whom inoffense is a life in itself; pretentious cousin Helena, as lonely as Paul but determined to seem busy and in demand; and jaunty Vicky, the American Paul meets in Venice, whose breezy speech disguises her opportunistic nature. Most incisive is Thorne's depiction of Sarah, an ex-lover who rejected Paul years before, now querulous and bitter. Their conversations enliven a stark narrative. B.V.M. (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
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Strangers
Strangers
Anita Brookner
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