Once again, 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 were memorable characters but the mysterious disappeance of Anna and the final unfolding of its mystery did not seem to fit in with the behavior patterns which Anna had developed from half a lifetime of practical and emotional dependence on her mother.
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