Look at Me: 05/04/09
Look at Me by Anita Brookner is in the "Love" section of the Guardian's 1001 books you must read. I didn't read it because it's on the list. Frankly, I had forgotten it was on the list. I read it simply because I liked the title.
Look at Me (1983) is Brookner's third novel, coming the year before Hotel du Lac (which won the Booker). It's a short, introspective look at a moment of hope turned to disappointment. It's more mood piece than novel, filled with carefully chosen words and phrases.
At the center of the novel is Frances Hinton who hates to be called Fanny, likes to write and works in a medical library. She has had two of her stories published but has set aside her writing, stuck in the routine of her life.
She hopes things will change for the better when she is "adopted" by a well to do couple, Alix and Nick. In many of the reviews I've read, Alix and Nick are compared to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald or any of Fitzgerald's fictional couples. I have to agree and I was most reminded of Anthony and Gloria Patch in The Beautiful and the Damned (1922). Both couples are so focused on having fun and putting on a good show that they can't see how close they are to spiraling out of control even when the spiraling has begun.
Despite enjoying the similarities to Fitzgerald's novels, Frances's bookishness and Brookner's careful turn of phrase, I can't say I loved the book. I wanted to see her grow a little more or see Alix and Nick fall a little farther. That being said, I liked the book enough to want to read another novel by Anita Brookner's
Read other reviews at the Washington PostBook WorldHeaven-Ali's Journal and Ex Libris.
books | fiction | Anita Brookner | 1983