The Misalliance

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9780060971342: The Misalliance

Blanche Vernon is one of those discreet, smart women one sees in restaurants alone. Recently divorced, she considers it a matter of honour to keep herself busy, scrupulously carrying out ordinary tasks as I f they mattered, until darkness falls. She will then open a bottle of good red wine (which she does with increasing regularity) a cook herself a simple nourishing meal. She can still expect the occasional visit from her husband, Bertie, who a year ago defected to a capricious, childishly demanding computer expert called Mousie. Blanche is convinced it is her own misguided sense of stability, gentility and fair play which has led to this state of affairs, and that, if only she could have cultivated a more voluble, petulant nature, things might have turned out differently. Oddly, mutual friends do not see it this way: rather than consideringBlanch 'too sensible', general opinion has it that she has recently become insupportably eccentric - overly fond of literary allusions and piquant non-sequiturs - and moist irritating, she doesn't allow one properly to pity her. Blanch has mentally appropriated the child before she even knows her name - Elinor. The unnaturally grave three-year-old who sits mute in the local hospital where Blanche does volunteer work has never spoken I her short life. By comparison to this solemn, earth-bound creature, her mother Sally Beamish - all effervescence and weightless vitality - seems like a pagan nymph out of one of the paintings Blanche so often contemplates at the National Gallery. Childless herself, Blanche is wary of becoming too involved with these people emotionally, yet somehow they seem to require her help. Could the child's muteness be some kind of deliberate protest against the freewheeling chaos of life with Sally? Can Blanche provide some assistance without being drawn into the murky affairs which seem to lie at the heart of the family? Just as some women turn in loneliness to drink, to food or to shoplifting, Blanche notes with some irony that she has turned to flirtations with other lives, to good works and to uplifting pastimes. Hers is a memorable portrait of a woman living alone - one with the wit and means to step forward and grasp what has previously eluded her - but who is puzzled by the prospect. Anita Brookner's beautifully crafted novel is raw and painful yet as graceful and perceptive as anything she has written.

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Product Description:

After twenty years of marriage Blanche Vernon is alone; abandoned by her husband Bertie for a childishly demanding computer expert named Mousie. While Blanche finds this turn of events baffling, she feels that Bertie must have left her because of her overly sensible demeanor. Yet many of their mutual friends disagree. In fact, Blanche has come to be regarded as undeniably eccentric--making elliptical remarks that no one knows how to read, and chatting at great length about characters in fiction. She resolutely fills her unwanted hours with activities, maintaining her excellent appearance, drinking increasingly more wine, and, in an attempt to turn her energy to good works, becoming severely enmeshed in the life of a disordered young family.

Review:

"A Misalliance, like all Ms. Brookner's fiction, exercises an almost inexplicable grip on the reader-a tribute to her formidable gifts as a psychologist of the wounded woman's heart." -"The New York Times""It is the author's insight into the private human heart as well as her marvelous eye for color and artistic detail that take a woman's claustrophobic existence and make of it a novel of worldly proportions." -"Chicago Tribune""A marvelously written novel. . . . As in Hotel du Lac", "she is just brooding, beautifully, about why some women drive men wild while others do not." -"The Times "(London)"In the end, this is not just a beautifully drawn, disturbing evocation of one woman's loneliness. It's a sometimes witty, sometimes despairing meditation on duty and pleasure, art and artifice, innocence and experience--on the appetites that pull and push at the very core of what passes for civilized life." -"Philadelphia Inquirer""Miss Brookner writes exquisitely: her molding of every sentence is a delight . . . [as are] her impeccable evocations of mood--wet, lonely London summers are her forte--her small flares of wisdom and understanding, and her many moments of utter cleverness." -"The Observer "(London)"An ingenious variation on a Brookner theme . . . ambitiously subtle . . . handled with much imaginative resource." -"The Guardian""Wonderfully poised and pointed . . . a civilized look at contemporary disorder." -"The Times Literary Supplement "(London)"As in Hotel du Lac", "Brookner once again contemplates the rifts in women's lives and the complex process of recovery. This quiet vision of Blanche slowly reconciling herself to her loss can be savored for its stunning imagery and use of irony." -"Booklist"

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