Words of wisdom from Anita Brookner


Murderers, great criminals, should ideally be dons: plenty of time to plan the coup and no curious questions or inquisitive glances once it is done. 9

Dr Weiss had never met anyone, man or woman, friend or colleague, who could stand literature when it was not on the page. 10

She knew without understanding that Mrs Cutler was one of those louche women who thrive on the intimacy of couples, who are the cold-eyed recipients of many a confidence, who then repeat it to the other party in the interests of both...20

“Maggie needs a new library book…Nothing with an unhappy ending. And nothing set in the colonies. And preferably with nobody called Douglas in it.” Mrs Cutler’s husband had been called Douglas. 42

Work, she thought, is a paradox: it is the sort of thing people do out of sheer inability to do anything else. Work is the chosen avocation of those who have no other calls on their time. 67

….buoyant, serene, anaesthetized against everyday hurts. She imagined, wrongly, that being in love was like this. With love comes seriousness, loss of autonomy, responsibility without power. 75

Molly had sounded so tremendously cheerful and optimistic that Mrs Cutler, who had tried the ways of Christian Science and found them wanting, suspected that something had already gone terribly wrong.

Sometimes she kept her makeup on all night in order not to give herself a shock the following morning. 81

Like most young people, Roddy hated hypocrites, and did not allow for the fact that he was growing into one himself
. 150

Sometimes he stayed for a meal, for she had become a very good cook. He felt comfortable in her presence, at ease, relaxed. Eventually he asked her to marry him. In this he showed sense; it is best to marry for purely selfish reasons.

These are all taken from Brookner’s first book, A Start In Life, highly recommended for its wit, heart and perfect balance of tragedy and comedy.
Mrs Cutler and the stoic Christian Scientist Molly are two of Brookner’s most memorable characters.

11 thoughts on “Words of wisdom from Anita Brookner

  1. She writes so well. One of those low key English gals who may not have been on best seller lists but have a legion of fans.

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