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Anita Brookner's latest novel, Fraud, is a finely written, small scale story in which the characters are etched in depth and truthful detail. it begins with the disappearance to paris of the heroine, Anna Durrant, a 50 year-old spinster. Life has defrauded her. Bereft of her invalid mother, she tries to break free of her milieu, whilst reluctantly and guiltily attendant on her mother's 82 year-old friend Mrs. Marsh who equally needs her help by despises her passivity. The 'fraud' continues when she almost falls in love with her late mother's doctor, a former friend, who is concerned at her disappearance; but he had been already lost to her, years earlier when he chose the beautiful, dominating Vickie as his wife instead of her. She has come to see her wasted life as a long deception based on total obedience. 'Don't be like me', she tells Mrs. Marsh's widowed daughter, whom she now meets with a married lover in Paris. 'I believed my mother, who told me...that the best things in life are worth waiting for. And I waited. That was the fraud'.

Philippa takes the advice, abandons the unsatisfactory lover and returns home. but Anna? She tamely strides out into the Paris streets in search of a brighter future through the new clothes designed by and marketed for an older friend who is, improbably, finding salvation in designing exciting clothes for the elderly. This unbelievable ending seems to belie the author's devastatingly piercing insights into deception and self-deception; but otherwise this is an excellent novel.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Contemporary Review Company Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Abel, Betty
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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