Thumbs up for Providence by Anita Brookner. Literature.
I have read another book by Brookner and it could be summarized the same way—intellectual woman wants love, makes attempts at it with men who fall short of their hopes. They do not have plots, exactly. They are collections of immaculately chosen detail that make you feel completely in sympathy with the characters, even if you want to shake them, as if they are real people you know. They are very sad books and absolute genius.
Tea and biscuits at the staff meeting were, for Kitty, the high point of an otherwise socially unadventurous week. She smiled with genuine pleasure as she accepted her cup; it was the only sort of party she enjoyed these days. She dressed with extra care for these occasions, at which she said nothing; she thought her amateur status entitled her merely to attendance. She was exactly the sort of person Professor Redmile liked to have around. She knew this and it gave her added pleasure. The scene had, for her, a strange exoticism: the hideous room, the north light, the dull atmosphere, compounded of the smells of cigarette smoke and sheets of photocopied paper, the muted and rumpled appearance of everyone except Maurice and herself, the enormous amount of luggage they managed to bring in—bags, briefcases, mackintoshes—the ceremonial plate of chocolate biscuits handed round by Jennifer’s assistant, all this seemed to her stranger and more desirable that the home life of her grandparents with their variants on normal dress and erratic impromptu meals. It was on these occasions, ridiculed by her grandmother, that she felt she had a definite if modest status, in a context which did not take into account her beginnings or her background, a context, moreover, which contained Maurice. To be at one with him, even on so tenuous a basis as this, seemed to her a facror which could not but have a bearing on the rest of her life.
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