Daneet Steffens
February 25, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Undue Influence

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Anita Brookner
publisher
Random House
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction

We gave it a B

Anita Brookner’s characters tend to lead spartan lives, and Claire Pitt — the protagonist of Undue Influence, Brookner’s 19th novel — is no exception. Working in a London bookstore, returning home each evening to an empty flat, Claire involves herself with other people only from a safe distance (”Mostly I walked, speculating on the people I passed, on the conversations I overheard….”) and creates most of the action in her life through projections and fantasies. When she starts an affair with a seemingly innocuous widower, the ill-fated outcome seems inevitable. Brookner’s spare prose only intensifies Claire’s bleak isolation. B

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