A pervasive loneliness shadows “Undue Influence”. Claire Pitt, its heroine lives her life vicariously through other people. She is a product of an unhappy childhood with a disabled father and a dutiful but pre-occupied mother.
Claire meets Martin and then his invalid wife Cynthia and in spite of herself, she becomes attracted to him. Claire also seems to be looking for meaning and in her life and a loving, stable relationship and believing that Martin might provide this for her when circumstances change his life. Everything begins to unravel for Claire however, as she tries to absorb losses that begin to mount up in her life.
The reader is left with a totally ambiguous climax in terms of Claire’s fate. What routes does she choose? Does she have the strength to go on? These are the questions left not clearly answered.
As in her other works, Anita Brookner delineates the struggles of the modern unattached woman whose freedom has its penalties. The book is a powerful, understated yet complex read.