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Leaving home : a novel
Anita Brookner
Adult Fiction BROOKNE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Brookner's narrators often combine a Jamesian inner life with a deceptively blank external one, and Emma Roberts is a paragon of that type. An English doctoral student in the late 1970s whose restraint matches her choice of studies-classical garden design-Emma grew up isolated with a widowed, reclusive mother. "We loved each other greatly," she says, "yet so exclusive was that love that it was experienced more like anguish." Emma is studying in Paris and living as hermetically as her mother; her only acquaintances are a sexually adventurous librarian, Fran?oise, and a reserved young novelist, Michael. When Emma gets word that her mother has died, she rushes home to London and within weeks finds herself in a muted, epistolary power struggle with Fran?oise. Meanwhile, Emma meets Philip Hudson, a surgeon whose taciturn nature rivals her own (and recalls a less exalted Mr. Darcy). But things happen in Emma's life only to be swallowed by the deep, silent river of her shyness and her willingness to go along with what others want. This isn't an Austen novel, and even an instant of unalloyed pleasure would seem glib after several pages of Emma's sere circumspection. That circumspection makes the novel very powerful, even as Emma's passivity is sometimes so extreme it feels concocted only to justify a few more elegant sentences. But Emma is among the most delicately rendered heroines in recent fiction. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Emma Roberts, a subdued, introverted graduate student, leaves the cloistered world she has shared with her reclusive mother in 1970s London to study formal garden design in Paris. Here, despite her loner inclinations, she is befriended by wild-girl librarian Francoise, whose family owns a country mansion but is hampered by financial worries. Booker Prize winner Brookner's (Hotel du Lac) carefully drawn heroine is a study in understatement, with a cautious inner life that may for some readers evoke Jane Austen, minus the humor. After Emma's mother dies suddenly, Emma is forced to analyze her relationship to her childhood, to the men she's met, and to Francoise. Ultimately, the novel traces its heroine's gradual understanding of herself and her place in the world. She's as strictly defined as the gardens she studies and a fascinatingly subtle character. Recommended.-Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Emma Roberts
Doctoral student; studying classical garden design; repressed; brooding; mother was a widowed recluse who recently passed away.



Philip Hudson

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