“Problems of human behavior still continue to baffle us, but at least in the Library we have them properly filed.” When I came across this line on page one, I was sold. I’d picked this up on a whim months ago, after cataloging several Anita Brookner titles for the library (in my old position, when I processed most of the adult fiction). Then I let it sit on my shelf for ages, since it seemed quiet and slow in comparison to all the shiny new books I had checked out. And it is a fairly quiet novel, one of those that requires you to pay attention to each sentence, but rewards that attention with beguiling insights into human nature. There’s not much in the way of plot – it’s all about interpersonal relations, friendship, how we choose to live our lives, loneliness, the chance of romance – but once I got into it, the book was hard to put down. I abhorred a few of the characters from the get-go, and although I had a feeling they wouldn’t get their comeuppance, I had to find out how things were resolved.
Recommended to readers who like character-driven stories where you don’t necessarily love the characters, and also to readers who appreciate a book that forces them to slow down and read every sentence.