Fraud

by Anita Brookner

Paperback, 1994

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Vintage Books, 1994.

Description

After devoting the best years of her life to the care of her ailing mother, Anna Durrant, a compliant, dependable, and now aged woman disappears, in a work that explores the inner turmoil of women short-changed by life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Brasidas
DRAFT---Still reading
There is something slightly time-warped about Anita Brookner's novels. She often writes about this world of British widows. But I don't think such a community of widows really exists today, even in Britain, as much as it did, say, in the 60s and 70s. Cardiac care is better. Husbands are living longer. So there's this slight anachronism at the heart (sorry) of Brookner's narratives. It's interesting, she quite nimble at keeping current events and real people out of her novels as a means of not dating her prose. Yet this world of widows dates her books as much as anything. There are cars, but no microwaves or cell phones. There is television, but no GPS devices or PCs. Her characters are almost always in late midlife or elderly. Moreover, she has absolutely no qualms about taking on "grim" subjects such as aging, infirmity and impending death; if anything, she embraces these subjects. All that considered, within her self-imposed limitations, she is a wonderful writer. Her grammar is precise. Her vocabulary has these wonderful throwbacks to Victorian literature. She uses words like ineluctable and hieratic, equanimity and homage, which one finds oneself reading with the aspirated aitch, in the British manner. Generally set in London, with jaunts to Paris, the south of France and sometimes Spain, the books are nothing if not British. For this stateside reader they provide the essential prerequisite that all reading matter must meet: it must show me another, almost alien world. (It's hard for me to read Anne Beatty, say, since that's the world I grew up in and and I absolutely have no interest in its recreation.) But Brookner with her very British stories, well, one might as well be reading of life in Sumatra or Valpara√≠so, so strikingly different is the moral life and interpersonal considerations these characters embrace from my own. FRAUD begins with the disappearance of Anna Durrant. Anna, a do-gooder who always seems to annoy those she helps by her overbearing cheer, is utterly alone in the world. She is first noticed to be missing by her housekeeper, who notices that money has not be put out for her as usual. The few people in her life, her doctor among them, a man by the name of Halliday who rejects the "good" Anna for a manipulative sexpot, grow concerned. She was last seen 3 months ago. Slowly, Anna's life of service to her frail mother is revealed. She had given up everything for this mother. The result is isolation and loneliness. Then one day her frail mother passes out in a public place and is brought home by a man by the name of Ainsworth, who subsequently becomes the mother's lover. Anna is aghast that this almost shut-in mother is suddenly leading this athletic sex life; something Anna has never had. "He was too glossy, too plausible, and her mother too flushed, too pretty. She was aware of a disturbed scent in the air, as if her mother were warm and excited, just as she was to be aware, later, of Ainsworth's brutal stink in the bathroom and the bottles of cologne he poured over himself in order to become the lover and to dispel the natural man."… (more)
LibraryThing member ffortsa
From the back cover: "What happened to Anna Durant, a solitary woman of a certain age who has disappeared from her London flat? And why has it taken four months for anyone to notice?"

It's not what you think; rather,it provides an examination of so-called virtue and and the various kinds of social fraud that prop up society. Minutely observed with a very satisfying ending.… (more)
LibraryThing member kayclifton
Once again, Anita Brookner delves into the lives of unattached and isolated women with the parallel story lines of Anna Durrant and Vera Marsh. Anna, the only child of widowed Amy is left with the shards of her life when her mother dies. "They had loved one another despairingly: that was their undoing. And despair in love merely prolongs its intensity, as well as its duration which is forever". Vera on the other hand has had a satisfying marriage but with the death of her husband and old age beginning to take its toll, she must cope with loneliness and loss without falling into the trap of dependence on her adult children. Neither of the women are memorable characters but the mysterious disappearance of Anna and the final unfolding of its mystery did not seem to to fit in with the behavior patterns which Anna had developed from half a lifetime of practical and emotional dependence on her mother.… (more)
LibraryThing member jsmontover
The novel tells the story of Anna Durrant, a woman who has spent most of her 50 years caring for her mother, Amy. The novel begins with Anna's physician becoming alarmed when she has been missing for four or five months. Using the guise of what begins as a typical mystery, the police are summoned regarding the disappearance of this middle-aged woman. We then become acquainted with Anna Durrant, the missing protagonist, through the author's exploration of the character of her mother, "friends" and acquaintances, and their relationship with Anna and with one another. Brookner explores the minds of her characters with clarity and understanding.

The author thoroughly examines human relationships and the difficulty we have in truly understanding one another. The novel addresses love and friendship on many levels.

Even though the author reveals an inner loneliness and despair which privately exists within most of us, the novel leaves us with a final sense of optimism, that it is never too late to accept oneself, to overcome other's perceptions and to seek one's own happiness.
… (more)
LibraryThing member William345
There is something slightly anachronistic about Anita Brookner's novels. She often writes about this world of British widows. But I don't think such a community of widows really exists today as much as it did in the 50s. Health care is better. Husbands are living longer. It's interesting, she's so careful to keep current events and real people out of the novels as a means of not dating her prose, yet this world of widows dates her books as much as anything. There are cars in her novels, but no microwaves or cell phones. There is television, but no GPS or PCs. Her characters are almost always in late midlife or elderly. And she has absolutely no qualms about taking on "grim" subjects such as aging, infirmity and death; if anything, she embraces these topics. They are her subject matter. All that considered, Brookner is a wonderful writer. Her grammar is precise. Her vocabulary possesses these wonderful throwbacks to Victorian literature: words like ineluctable and hieratic, equanimity and homage (which one finds oneself reading with the aspirated aitch, in the British manner). Her diction is relatively formal. Though she is a complete original she has models like any writer, and these include Henry James and sometimes Marcel Proust with perhaps a touch of Simenon's plotting. Generally set in London, with jaunts to Paris, the south of France and sometimes Spain, the novels are nothing if not British. For this stateside reader they provide that essential requisite that all reading matter must meet: it must reveal another, almost alien world. Brookner with her very British stories, well, one might as well be reading of life in Sumatra or Valpara√≠so. FRAUD begins with the disappearance of Anna Durrant. Anna, a do-gooder who seems to annoy those she helps by way of an overbearing cheer, is alone in the world. She was last seen 3 months ago. Anna has grown up caring for a sickly and self-centered mother who could not let her go. Anna's life was supposed to take place conveniently after her mother's death. They love each other, of that there can be no question, but it is a strangulating love. Anna dutifully caries out her obligations. She had given up everything for her mother. The result is isolation and loneliness yet a resolute good nature that this reader saw as alternately a sign of strength and one of sheer madness. Then one day her supposedly frail mother collapses in a public place and is brought home by a man by the name of Ainsworth, who subsequently becomes the mother's lover. Anna is aghast that this almost shut-in mother is suddenly leading an athletic sex life; something she has never had herself. "He was too glossy," Brookner writes, "too plausible, and her mother too flushed, too pretty. She was aware of a disturbed scent in the air, as if her mother were warm and excited, just as she was to be aware, later, of Ainsworth's brutal stink in the bathroom and the bottles of cologne he poured over himself in order to become the lover and to dispel the natural man." The novel is for the most part a recounting of the lives of those who knew Anna in the weeks and months leading up to her disappearance. There is the "pale, goodlooking" Dr Halliday for whom women are a curse and who follows his penis into a horrible marriage. There is Mrs. Marsh, one of the elderly people Anna helps from time to time, whose views on the world around her are so stoic and blunt that we can't help but come to admire her as she continues to age and run down toward death fully aware of her decay. Vickie is the sexpot wife of Dr Halliday whom he slowly comes to hate. She and her father being walking talking Freudian case studies come to life with such vividness that the new husband is appalled. Halliday knows he should have married Anna. He knows they would have been good for each other, but follows his penis instead. This is one of Brookner's best novels. I think it is surpassed only by LATECOMERS, HOTEL DU LAC, BRIEF LIVES, and INCIDENTS IN THE RUE L'AUGIER.… (more)
LibraryThing member oldblack
This book follows the theme of a number of Brookner books: Now that I'm old, how do I make sense of my life? That appeals to me, because the same thought occurs to me every day. One of the characters is an angry person (me too), who reads the death notices in the newspaper (that's almost all I read), and just wants to be left alone (yep, me again). She thinks about the practical aspects of dying (don't we all?).
It's quite good reading - there's enough action to keep the reader interested, and yet its focus is on the internal events in the characters' minds, and the relationships which aren't quite really relationships at all. They're could-have-been relationships and once-were relationships. I reckon that's what life is mostly about, especially for the aging.
… (more)
LibraryThing member jkuiperscat
The novel tells the story of Anna Durrant, a woman who has spent most of her 50 years caring for her mother, Amy. The novel begins with Anna's physician becoming alarmed when she has been missing for four or five months. Using the guise of what begins as a typical mystery, the police are summoned regarding the disappearance of this middle-aged woman. We then become acquainted with Anna Durrant, the missing protagonist, through the author's exploration of the character of her mother, "friends" and acquaintances, and their relationship with Anna and with one another. Brookner explores the minds of her characters with clarity and understanding.

The author thoroughly examines human relationships and the difficulty we have in truly understanding one another. The novel addresses love and friendship on many levels.

Even though the author reveals an inner loneliness and despair which privately exists within most of us, the novel leaves us with a final sense of optimism, that it is never too late to accept oneself, to overcome other's perceptions and to seek one's own happines
… (more)

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