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Monday, 21 March 2016

In praise of depressed spinsters...

Oh, how I wish I had met Anita Brookner, the 'famously miserable'   novelist who died  recently.

Like many readers, I first discovered Anita  Brookner's writing in 1984 when her third novel  Hotel Du Lac won the Booker Prize - the most coveted literary prize in Britain.

Writing in the Daily Mail this week social historian  A N Wilson  observed: 'Though she denied her novels were autobiographical,  they chronicle the lives of  lonely miserable women who have the unerring knack of falling for unsuitable men.'

Her novels, as fans will confirm,  were full of  depressed spinsters,  but in real life she had  a dry wit that could, sometimes, be  misunderstood. 'I feel I could get into the Guinness Book of Record as the world's loneliest, most miserable woman,' she once said.

Anita Brookner grew up in  a large Victorian villa in South London 'the only child of clever, ill-matched parents.'  Though she never married, she had two great loves - art and fiction - in particular the work of Belgian writer Georges Simenon.  Simenon was well-know for creating Inspector Maigret, but most of his work at the time comprised dark, psychological novels.

According to Wilson, Brookner's novels could be described in similar terms. 'They all chronicle, in one way or another, men and women who cannot find happiness in personal relationships but can't be happy without them.' he says.

In retrospect it is hard not to feel a little sorry for this extremely intelligent and talented woman who never seemed to meet her match. Hotel du Lac, about a woman who jilted her partner on their wedding day, made her famous and she went on to write a book a year (by hand) for almost two decades.  History has it that she fell in love many times, but always with unsuitable people.

As for me, I prefer  to remember  for  her  incredible talent and this wonderful quote (below) on writing.

You never know what you will learn till you start writing.
Then you discover truths you never knew existed

Anita Brookner


Guernsey Girl said...
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Another Guernseyman said...

I've always been a fan of Maigret, Guernsey Girl, but I'm no so sure about depressed spinsters! Interesting post.

Guernsey Girl said...

I'm still very impressed by her ability to write a book a year for 20 years, Another Guernseyman. I've only got another 18 to go....

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

Interesting. My Big Mama had a dry wit. Nine children too. LOL.

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

P.S. I used to choose very unsuitable men too. Finally got smart though.

Guernsey Girl said...

Nine children, Francie! She must have been one amazing lady! And I'm so glad you got smart in the end! xx